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TMC downplays Amit Shah’s N Bengal visit

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

The Trinamul Congress has said it does not want to give much importance to the proposed visit of BJP national president Amit Shah to north Bengal on 8 April.

Mr Shah is scheduled to hold a booth-level meeting in Siliguri and meet tea workers at Nagrakata ahead of the rural polls. Though the BJP camp is upbeat about the visit, the ruling party sees Mr Shah as a ‘tourist.’

“Being a leader of a political party, he can visit and hold programmes anywhere in the state. Many tourists visit the region and we welcome him as a tourist here. We understand he has been under tremendous pressures in view of the approaching elections in states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. People of the state do not pay attention to the BJP. His last visit to the region had turned out to be a damp squib, so this time also, his programmes will not have any impact,” state tourism minister Gautam Deb said here on Friday.

BJP leaders said Mr Shah will meet booth presidents of north Bengal. “It is expected that he will guide and prepare strategies ahead of the rural polls. There is no question of leaving an inch to other political parties in the elections. His visit will definitely boost the party’s morale, that is why the ruling party leaders are worried about the visit,” said a senior BJP leader.

“Had Mr Shah’s last visit not have any impact, Trinmul Congress would not force Raju and Gita Mahali to join in the party,” the leader said.

Mr Shah last visited the region last year when he had lunch in a banana leaf in the tin-shed house of Raju and Gita Mahali at South Kotiajote in Naxalbari block near Siliguri during a meeting of two booths (93 and 94) as part of a boothlevel drive of the party on 25 April.

The Mahali couple, however, joined the Trinamul eight days after playing host to Mr Shah. Siliguri Organisational District BJP general secretary Abhijit Roy Chowdhury, meanwhile, said preparations were made for Mr Shah’s visit.