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Ahead of Bengal polls, BJP plans Rath yatras

The BJP, which has launched an aggressive poll campaign in West Bengal, is all set to take out Rath Yatras with a message of “parivartan” (change) in the state ahead of the elections, sources said. The party will take out five Rath Yatras that will cover all 294 Assembly constituencies, starting February.

The decision was taken at a meeting held in New Delhi on Friday in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J P Nadda discussed the party’s campaign strategy with leaders in charge of West Bengal, including general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, joint general secretary Shiv Prakash and state party president Dilip Ghosh, among others.

“The party will be taking out five Rath Yatras that will touch 294 constituencies of West Bengal in February. Party’s senior leaders at the national level will be leading it. It will be designed in such a way that one leader who begins the yatra on a Monday will stay throughout the week. The details of the routes, etc will be worked out soon,” said a party source With the leaders discussing and finalising various programmes during their three-hour meeting, the party’s main theme would be “parivartan”, said the source.

The BJP, which has been desperate to change the political map of West Bengal, will focus on weakening the ruling Trinamool Congress — the saffron party has been poaching its key leaders from different regions. Senior leaders, including ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government such as Suvendu Adhikari, have already joined the party and more are expected to come to its fold, according to BJP leaders.

“Mamataji is now busy keeping her flock together but more are going to join the BJP. We are in discussions with some more key leaders and you will see more coming in,” said a senior party leader. However, the central leadership has warned that there should be proper background checks and an assessment of the impact of a leader’s entry before he or she is inducted into the BJP

In the meeting, it was also decided both Shah and Nadda will visit the state at least twice a month ahead of polls for public rallies and meetings with cadres. Shah is expected to attend programmes in the state on January 30 and 31. BJP leaders said the elections are expected to be held in March-April. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address rallies only after the dates are announced, the party leaders said.

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