The party will start a rath yatra in the state from 7 December.
The Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is making elaborate arrangements for its proposed Rath Yatra that is likely to begin from 7 December this year. The yatra would mark the official beginning of the party’s Lok Sabha campaign in Bengal, where the party is looking to win 22 out of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.
The yatra, which will be flagged off by BJP national president Amit Shah from West Bengal’s temple town Tarapith in Birbhum district, has been renamed the Save Democracy Yatra to strike a chord with the present political situation in Bengal and make people of Bengal aware about “how their democratic rights are being suppressed by the present Trinamool Congress government”, according to BJP leaders in the state. The 7,000 km yatra will criss-cross the entire state, covering all the 294 Assembly constituencies and 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, with the party’s top leadership, including several Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attending the yatra. The Prime Minister is likely to attend the yatra at its concluding phase in January where he will also address a rally in Kolkata.
Other heavyweight leaders who are likely to be a part of the yatra in Bengal include Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other leaders from the BJP.
To make the yatra a success story, the party has already chalked out an elaborate plan, which includes eight different committees that have been formed for every Vidhan Sabha constituency. The committees will oversee different verticals that would be necessary during the yatra.
The eight committees would cover “Food”, to look after food management along the yatra route; “Transport”, for smooth movement and facilitation of guests and VVIPs; “Guest Appearance”, to look after the heavyweight leaders and devise strategy and planning of the rally that is to be organised along the route of the yatra; “Security Management”, to ensure security and safety of all members and the chariot along the route of the yatra; “Speaker Management”, the team that will manage the speakers in the chariot; “Lodging”, that will take care of the lodging of guests and other dignitaries who will participate in the yatra, along with other smaller committees that will look into the designing and detailing of the chariot and the route of the yatra.
According to BJP leaders from the state, the yatra will have at least 1,500 people along with the chariot at all times, along with an ambulance and a security team of the party that will travel with the chariot across the state.
A senior BJP leader from the state told this newspaper: “Apart from the three main raths that will start from Tarapith, Cooch Behar and Gangasagar, we will also be taking out small raths from all the 78,000 booths across West Bengal, that will meet the main raths in the Vidhan Sabha headquarters in their respective areas. On reaching each Vidhan Sabha, three rallies will be organised in different places in each Vidhan Sabha and will be addressed by heavyweight leaders from the state as well as the Centre.”
According to sources in the BJP, the party is likely to raise the issue of NRC (National Register of Citizens) during the yatra. If sources are to be believed, the party leadership in the state has given instructions to all the district level leaders to highlight the “appeasement politics” of the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal and raise the issue of NRC aggressively, along with the main theme of “Save Democracy”.
The IT cell of the party will also launch a mammoth digital interface of the yatra along its route in the state, and will promote the entire yatra through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp on a daily basis in a bid to reach out to all the five crore smartphone users in the state.
The BJP will use this yatra as a platform to gauge the strength of the party in the state as well as sounding the bugle for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.