Let's have a duel: Amit Shah slams COVID-19 vaccine critics in Assam event

KOLKATA: Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah will arrive in Kolkata tonight on a two-day visit beginning on Saturday to take stock of the BJP’s preparedness ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal.

His visit comes in the backdrop of growing rebellion in the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) with several ministers and MLAs openly speaking out against the party and the functioning of the state government.

Speculations are rife that former minister Rajib Banerjee who has resigned as cabinet minister and TMC MLA, expelled TMC MLA Baishali Dalmiya and Uttarpara MLA Prabir Ghoshal may join the saffron party during Shah’s visit.

“On Saturday morning, Shah will be visiting Iskcon, Mayapur. Then he will be going to Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas, a bastion of Matuas, where he will address a public rally. Later in the day, he will hold a closed-door meeting with social media cell of the party. He has some other engagements too,” a state BJP leader said.

Shah will also hold a meeting with party leaders to review its poll prepararedness.

“On Sunday he will be visiting Aurobindo Bhawan to pay his respects to Sri Aurobindo. Then he will be going to Bharat Sevashram Sangha. From there he will proceed to Howrah where he will address a public meeting,” the BJP leader said.

Later in the evening, he will be visiting Belur Math. According to BJP sources, there will be “surprises” at Shah’s rally in Howrah.

“Lists of TMC leaders likely to join our party are doing the rounds in social media. I can only say that there will be several surprises on Sunday,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.

In the biggest single-day exodus from the TMC, political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, along with 35 party leaders, including five MLAs and an MP, had joined the BJP during Shah’s rally in Medinipur on December 19.

Since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP bagged 18 seats from the state, 14 legislators of the TMC, four from the Left Front and two from the Congress have joined the saffron party.

Elections to the 294-member state assembly are due in April-May.