Union home minister Amit Shah will reach Kolkata this evening on a two-day visit to West Bengal to take stock of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s organizational preparedness for the 2021 state assembly election which is due in a few months.

Buoyed by its impressive gain in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, in which the BJP had won 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats, the party is now eyeing for the West Bengal assembly.

“Shah will be landing at the Kolkata International Airport today around 8:30 pm. He has a series of meetings over the next two days before he flies back to Delhi on November 6 evening,” said a senior party leader.

While Shah did not campaign in Bihar for the assembly election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed more than ten election rallies in the state since October. On October 22, Modi also addressed the people of Bengal on the occasion of Durga Sasthi virtually sounding the poll bugle.

“Shah will address two rallies of BJP karyakartas, covering two of the party’s five organizational zones in each meeting. While the meeting on November 5 is in Bankura, the meeting on November 6 will take place in Kolkata,” said a senior leader.

BJP president JP Nadda had addressed the karyakartas of north Bengal zone during his visit to the state before Durga Puja.

On Thursday, Shah is scheduled to pay homage to 18th century tribal leader Birsa Munda at Bankura and have lunch in a tribal family in the district. On November 6 he is scheduled to visit the Dakhsineswar Temple and have lunch with a Matua (a Dalit population in Bengal) family at Rajarhat – New Town in the northern fringes of the city. The Matuas had extended their support to the BJP in the 2019 elections.

“He is also likely to hold meetings with the BSF and CRPF and has expressed his willingness to meet Padma Bhushan Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty as part of the BJPs effort to reach out to intellectuals,” said the BJP leader.

Shah’s visit to the state at this stage assumes significance because it is being viewed by senior leaders as an effort to stop internal rumblings and iron out differences between BJP leaders who earlier worked for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and those who joined in recent years, leaving the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Differences between Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and Mukul Roy, the vice president (who switched over from the TMC) made news over the last two months. BJP leaders said the party’s central leaders want this to end so that a strong fight can be put up against the TMC in 2021.

TMC MP Saugata Roy dismissed Shah’s engagement with the Matua community as inconsequential for the assembly polls,

“Shah is coming to put an end to the rift that has surfaced in the Bengal BJP unit. Having lunch with a Matua or with a tribal family will not have any effect on the polls,” Roy said.

The BJP has made some organisational changes in its Bengal unit and central leaders want the state unit to hit the road with full steam and subsequently intensify campaign for the crucial assembly election due in about five months. The entire campaign will be monitored from Delhi, a senior BJP leader said.

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