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5 May 2017

Operation Ring Fence - BJP rush to charm Amit Shah's hosts

Locket Chatterjee in Chetla in Calcutta on Thursday
SANDIP CHOWDHURY and BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, May 4: The Bengal BJP was in a damage-control mode today after losing to Trinamul the Naxalbari couple who had hosted Amit Shah last month.
While BJP state secretary Locket Chatterjee rushed to Chetla in south Calcutta to meet the two families whom Shah had visited on April 26, party leaders in Naxalbari were busy arranging for housing and cooking gas connection for Raju and Geeta Mahali who had accepted the Trinamul flag from tourism minister Gautam Deb yesterday.
"After visiting their house, our party president had said that the family should be provided with a proper house and a cooking gas connection under central schemes," a BJP leader said.
"We have initiated the process and will ensure the family gets both these benefits even though they have joined Trinamul," he added.
Although the local BJP leaders in Siliguri said the tribal couple were "mere supporters" of the party to play down the switchover, sources in the BJP said Trinamul's success in wooing the two had caused much heartburn among the BJP's central leadership.
Trinamul leaders have been claiming since yesterday that Raju and Geeta joined the party on their own, but the BJP has alleged that they did so under duress.
In South Kotiajote of Naxalbari, the Mahali couple returned to their house this morning after spending two nights outside.
With 10-odd policemen posted outside their hut, both Raju and Geeta appeared perturbed as other villagers curiously looked at them.
"We are daily-wage earners and have to arrange for our food. We want to live in peace," Geeta said in an agitated tone.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today dismissed the allegations against Trinamul regarding the tribal couple.
"Yesterday, BJP leaders went on saying that the family in Naxalbari had been forced to join Trinamul. This is absolutely false," she said in Malda.
"A leader of that party went to their home and had food. Then he said violence is rampant in Bengal. Bengal is the most peaceful place in the country. Such blatant lies will not work in our state," she added.
In Calcutta, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya attacked Mamata and her party over the switchover, saying: "It is appalling, the level to which she and her party have stooped for votes."

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