Amit Shah’s Bengal Visit Raises Questions in Bihar

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday night. [Twitter/@AmitShah]

Till recently, he was so aloof from the political activities that he did not meet party workers during a week-long visit to his home state of Gujarat in Durga Puja

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

PATNA — Instead of landing anywhere in Bihar, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s plane touched down at the Kolkata airport on November 4 evening. No, the pilot had not committed any error but had landed the aircraft as per the instruction.

Perhaps the politically bad weather condition in the Nitish Kumar-ruled state had compelled the second most powerful man in India to direct his aircraft to travel further east to the state where polling is due six months from now.

After reaching Bengal, Shah acknowledged that he had “missed Bihar” this time because he had suffered from coronavirus disease and subsequent complications. He said that his doctors had advised him to rest till November 5, which was the last day of campaigning in Bihar.

So, he planned a trip for Bengal. But his explanation raised more questions than gave appropriate answers. He reached Bengal on November 4 evening and started activities from the word go till his return on November 6. The tour was quite hectic for a man who had recovered from a prolonged illness.

Till recently, he was so aloof from the political activities that he did not meet party workers during a week-long visit to his home state of Gujarat in Durga Puja. This was in spite of the fact that there were by-polls in eight Assembly seats in Gujarat.

Anyway, if he could have spent the entire November 5 in Bengal, why could not he use this very day in Bihar and address at least a couple of election rallies here? The idea would have been an instant hit and would have energised the BJP’s somewhat demoralised war machine at least on the final day of electioneering. The workers would have closed their ranks after seeing Shah taking to the battleground soon after recovering.

Another related question as to why Shah was in so much hurry to take on Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee even before the time for rest prescribed by doctors had expired? After all, time was not running out. Did he want to send a deliberate signal to the Bihar BJP and alliance partner, the Janata Dal (United)?

However, Shah, for reasons best known to him, opted to skip Bihar, though he had way back on June 7 addressed its people from Delhi at the height of covid-19. In all 73,000 LED TVs were installed all over Bihar. A day later, he had addressed the people of Bengal through the same virtual rally.

Curiously, weeks after the June 7 virtual rally, a good number of Bihar BJP leaders and workers tested corona-positive and some of them had even died. This included party MLC, Sunil Singh. At least 75 BJP leaders and workers tested positive after a meeting in the BJP headquarters in Patna. This caused panic in the rank and file of the party.

In Bengal, Shah virtually rubbed shoulders with the Scheduled Castes and Tribes at various places and took lunch with them. He once again assured them that the issue of citizenship of Matuas, who form about 16 per cent of the state population, would be resolved soon. Matuas actually came from the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

In contrast, he had no time for 16 per cent Dalits of Bihar where the Lok Janshakti Party, founded by the late SC leader, Ram Vilas Paswan, has been posing problems for the two other NDA constituents–the Janata Dal (United) and BJP. At least two dozen rebel BJP leaders are set to be contesting on the LJP ticket.

Shah’s aloofness from Bihar is a pointer to the fact that BJP has conceded defeat, or that things are so messy within NDA that he deemed it fit to ignore the state. After all, a section of the BJP central leadership is not very enthusiastic to see the return to power of Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi.

Is not the fact that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed just one-third rallies in comparison to the 2015 Assembly elections.

Perhaps, the saffron brigade sees better prospects in Bengal and wants to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor there. Besides, it is looking forward to getting a sizable number of votes after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act last December.

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