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Bengal: BJP Rath to touch 42 Lok Sabha constituencies

BJP leaders have said that three Rath Yatras will be taken out from three different places in the state and they will cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal.

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

The BJP leadership in north Bengal, comprising eight districts, is busy making plans for a Ratha Yatra, which will start from Cooch Behar on 7 December and cover the state’s 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Top BJP leaders are scheduled to hold a meeting in this regard in Siliguri on 26 October.

“Party observer for West Bengal, Arvind Menon, the party’s national-level assistant general secretary, Shiv Prakash, and other leaders are scheduled to attend the meeting,” the convener of the BJP’s North Bengal zone, Rathindra Bose, said.

According to him, three Raths will be taken out from three different places in the state and they will cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal.

The first Rath will start on 5 December from religious places like Tarapith in Birbhum district and cover 14 Lok Sabha seats and their assembly segments. The second Rath, which will end its journey at Bongaon, may begin at the Raas Mela Ground in Cooch Behar on 7 December. BJP leaders, however, suspect that the administration may not allow them to use the ground there.

Similarly, the third Rath will be taken out on 9 December from another religious place of worship for the Hindus– Ganga Sagar, where thousands of Hindus go every year for a holy dip.

The first and the third Rathas will end their journey in Kolkata tentatively in the last week of January 2019.

After the end of the programme, the BJP will organise a central rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata in the last week of January, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the gathering, Mr Bose said.

Party sources said that through the Rath Yatra, the party will start campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP leaders have been working almost day and night for the preparation of the Yatra. Party sources said that the top central leadership will address a central rally at a place for each Lok Sabha seat during the Rath Yatra.

State level leaders will also address in every Assembly segment as the Rath Yatra touches the seven Assembly seats under a Lok Sabha seat.

Sources said the party leaders are planning as to how assembly areas in the Hills under the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat can be touched, at a time when the administration has allegedly debarred BJP leader and Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia from entering the Hills even for attending government programmes.

Party insiders said that the main Rath will not cover the Assembly segments in the Hills, but that an ‘Upo Rath’ will move in those areas.

Like the Hill Assembly segments, there are other few Assembly segments where the main Rath cannot be taken due to several reasons. One such area is Sitalkuchi, which is a sensitive area in Cooch Behar, politically and communally.

Notably, all these preparations for the Rath Yatra comes at a time when Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has asked her party leaders to win all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the general elections next year.

It may be noted here that the BJP aims to win at least 50 per cent of the seats in West Bengal, though the saffron party had won only two of the 42 constituencies in the last LS polls.