General Elections 2019 – Day 65
PM challenges Mamata Banerjee in her backyard
Prime Minister Modi arrived in Kolkata to address rallies in Basirhat and Diamond Harbour. Earlier in the day, he addressed rallies in Paliganj in Bihar and Deoghar in Jharkhand. In the outskirts of Kolkata, his first rally was at Basirhat in support of BJP candidate from Sayantan Basu.
In both rallies, the PM immediately launched into attacking Mamata Banerjee saying the people of Bengal were ready to vote her out. He criticized her intolerance when she ordered the arrest of BJP’s Priyanka Sharma from Howrah for forwarding a morphed meme of Mamata Banerjee.
He blamed Mamata Banerjee for obstructing the process of democracy by denying the BJP from campaigning in a free and fair manner. He condemned her for refusing to accept the Indian Prime Minister but recognizing Pakistan’s, in an indirect reference of her Muslim appeasement.
He also raised national security as a major area of concern for the nation and how Mamata Banerjee was supporting voices that were against India’s interests.
Basirhat is a Muslim dominated constituency comprising 54 percent of the people living here. This election, TMC has put up popular Bengali film star Nusrat Jahan as the moderate Muslim face, but she faces resistance for the more conservative locals. BJP is hoping to displace TMC by putting Sayantan Basu and is banking on the Hindu votes to get a foothold in an area considered a TMC stronghold.
In Diamond Harbour, the stakes are high for TMC as Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is contesting this seat.
What went wrong during Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata?
BJP president Amit Shah began his roadshow from central Kolkata’s Esplanade area amid a large crowd of BJP supporters and enthusiasts. Some dressed in colourful costumes from the Ramayana; others donned the signature saffron t-shirts and headbands.
Amit Shah along with some other party leaders was on a truck, and the procession proceeded peacefully albeit slowly towards the north Kolkata home of Swami Vivekananda. The atmosphere was charged, and supporters slowly proceed through the narrow streets chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans.
As the procession crawled towards Vidyasagar College, students of TMC youth wing who were inside the college campus holding anti-BJP posters began chanting ‘Amit Shah Go Back.’ This is where the version gets cloudy of what happened next.
BJP later claimed there was storm pelting from within the campus and it triggered a violent reaction from those who were part of the passing procession.
TMC claimed it was BJP workers who instigated the violence and then entered the college and damaged property inside the college, including breaking a bust of Vidyasagar’s statue.
Video recordings circulating in social media showed rioters breaking down the college gate, pulling out a two-wheeler and setting it on fire.
Both parties have approached the EC for action and also held a press conference blaming each other for the violence. BJP held protests at Jantar Mantar in the capital.
PM Modi is due to address voters in Basirhat and Diamond Harbour in the outskirts of Kolkata in West Bengal.
It’s Yogi Adityanath’s pride on test in Gorakhpur
Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency has consistently voted for the BJP since 1989, and from the 1998 general elections to 2014, Gorakhpur continued to vote for Yogi Adityanath. A look at his vote share in every general election reveals his popularity in the constituency – 1998 – 42.62%; 1999 – 41.10 %; 2004 – 51.31%; 2009 – 53.85%; 2014 – 51.80%.
In 2018 by-polls, Praveen Kumar Nishad, son of Nishad Party founder Dr Sanjay Nishad, defeated the BJP candidate Upendra Dutt Shukla by 21,881 votes.
For UP CM Yogi Adityanath, it was a personal defeat for he continued to take for granted people’s loyalty to him. This year, the BJP has pitched Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan who will face-off with SP candidate Ram Bhuwal Nishad. The influential Nishad community is supporting the SP-BSP-RLD alliance and remain a major factor which can decisively swing the election outcome. Both BJP and the SP alliance realize this.
Yogi Adityanath has made this contest a prestige battle, and he has activated his entire support base including the Hindu Yuva Vahini he founded and party cadres in major voter outreach to all voter segments.
Drums and dancing greet Priyanka Gandhi in Varanasi
Two months back no one would have visualized the festival atmosphere in Varanasi just four days before the crucial vote. People were dancing to the beat of drums and followed by short prayer chants to welcome Congress Gen. Secretary for eastern U.P, Priyanka Gandhi.
Despite backing off from challenging the PM in this constituency, she succeeded in rejuvenating Congress cadres, most of whom have been forced into remaining on the political sidelines.
Her presence will not translate into victory for the Congress candidate but will certainly eat into PM Modi’s vote share. For more election updates, visit Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency