KOLKATA: The BJP is all set to ride a rath again in a bid to come to power, this time in West Bengal.
Party president Amit Shah and two chief ministers of BJP-ruled states are planning to hold rath yatras in the state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Shah will embark on a rath yatra from Shaktipeeth Tarapith covering entire western parts of Bengal from December 3. While Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal will start a rath yatra from Cooch-Behar's Madan Mohan temple covering entire north and central Bengal from December 5, his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath will lead a yatra from Ganga Sagar covering southern parts from December 7.
The three yatras will conclude at Kolkata in January end where PM Narendra Modi will address a public meeting. Shah, Sonowal and Yogi will be a part of the yatras for some duration of their course. Jharkhand and Tripura CMs are also expected to be a part of the campaign.
The yatra plans are giving security jitters to state police. Given the Babri demolition that followed after BJP veteran LK Advani’s rath yatra in 1990 and the recent clashes between ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP workers, the police is not willing to take any chance. “The rath yatras will go through stretches where the BJP performed well in rural elections, where TMC-BJP clashes were reported and where communal clashes have occurred in past two years. Providing security simultaneously in three different routes will be a challenge,” a senior police officer said.
Special police units are likely to provide additional security to the yatras. “The rath yatras will commence from Birbhum as western parts of Bengal are synonymous with political violence. Amit Shah has expressed his willingness to be part of the rath yatra covering western parts for a week,” BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said.
The TMC said the yatras would be a flop. “Similar rath yatras were earlier planned under Advani’s leadership, but were unsuccessful. This time too, it will not succeed as the people of Bengal are against communal politics,” said TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray.