Jalpaiguri: Amid BJP’s accusations of harassment and intimidation by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a public meeting in Jalpaiguri district’s Churabhandar on Friday, in a bid to give a further fillip to the saffron outfit’s Lok Sabha poll campaign in northern West Bengal.
The BJP’s big hopes for a good show in the eastern state, where the party has been traditionally weak, hinges around a good performance in the eight seats spread across seven North Bengal districts. It has lined up a series of big public meetings in the region by drafting top national leaders as part of its ongoing February campaign blitz across Bengal.
After bringing Amit Shah in Malda, Rajnath Singh in Falakata (Alipurduar) and Mathabhanga (Cooch Behar) and Aarranging telephonic address of Yogi Adityanath in Balurghat (South Dinajpur) and Raiganj (North Dinajpur) after his helicopter was not given landing permission, the saffron outfit’s first round of campaign in north Bengal reaches a climax with Modi’s programme.
The Prime Minister’s visit comes in the backdrop of the surcharged political atmosphere in the state, with Mamata Banerjee taking to the streets with all her might to throw the gauntlet at the BJP, and to Modi in particular, after an ugly face-off between the CBI and the Kolkata police over the federal agency’s attempt to grill police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Ponzi scheme scam.
There are no prizes for guessing that Modi would return the fire with all his customary gusto at Churabhandar – in Maynaguri block and over 500 km from state capital Kolkata. The ponzi scam issue and alleged involvement of Trinamool leaders in the scandal are likely to feature prominently in his speech.
Modi is also likely to question Banerjee’s street protests to protect a police officer under the CBI scanner and attack her for the way the federal agency’s officers were aassaulted and detained’ while carrying out a probe ordained by the Supreme Court.
The meeting would be the third by the Prime Minister within six days in the state. On February 2, he had addressed two rallies in Thakurnagar (of North 24 Parganas district) and Durgapur (West Burdwan district).
On Thursday, Special Protection Group personnel in charge of the Prime Minister’s security were seen making a thorough inspection of the spot and its surrounding areas, and supervising the arrangements.
Three helipads are being built, and a host of state and district-level and BJP leaders have descended on the area to tie up the loose ends.
After the collapse of a canopy during Modi’s meeting in Midnapore town, and the mini stampede at Thakurnagar, the district administration and the BJP leadership are living no stone unturned to prevent any such accident at Churabhandar.
“There will be a huge crowd. Initially, we thought there will be a turnout of one lakh. But now the sort of response we are getting, the crowd can swell to several lakhs,” BJP Jalpaiguri district chief Debasish Chakraborty told IANS.
He alleged that all sorts of obstacles were created by the Trinamool and the administration in organising the meeting.
“First, the administration rejected our application for using grounds of government-run bodies for the meeting. When we managed to convince some private owners to hold the meeting on their land, the Trinamool forced some farmers to object to the landing of the helicopter in or around their land, saying their crops will be destroyed.
“But we held discussions with the farmers. We have now got all the permissions. However, now the Trinamool goons are now threatening car and bus owners not to rent their vehicles for the meeting. They are even going from door-to-door threatening people not to attend the rally,” Chakraborty alleged.