CPM, Congress aim to counter Amit Shah’s Bengal rath yatras

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Kolkata, Oct 31: In a bid to counter BJP chief Amit Shah’s ‘rath yatras’ in Bengal ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls, opposition Congress and the CPM have decided to take up mass contact programmes and ‘padayatras’ (foot marches) in the state.
The ruling TMC, however, refused to attach any importance to either Shah’s rath yatras or events organised by the opposition, saying people of the state were firmly with chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in Bengal, stood second to the Trinamool Congress in the local body polls held recently. The saffron party has emerged as the principle challenger to TMC, leaving its two traditional rivals — the Congress and CPM — fuming.
The state Congress, on its part, has decided to launch ‘Jan Samparak Abhiyan’ (mass contact) programme across the state, as part of a nationwide initiative, likely from the end of next month, party sources said.
The CPM leadership under the banner of its farmer wing – Kisan Sabha – has announced three foot marches from Singur in Hoogly district, Coochbehar district and Farakka in Murshidabad district, sources in the party said.
According to the sources in both parties, these programmes will clash with the timing of the three rath yatras of Shah in the state from December 5-9, and are aimed at countering it.
West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra said the ‘Jan Samparak Abhiyan’ is targeted at reaching out to the masses with the objectives of the party and highlight the “corruption, communal politics and misrule” of the Narendra Modi government.
“In every district, blocks and booths of the state, our party workers will reach out to the masses and communicate our vision. We will also raise a donation of Rs 2 to Rs 5 from every household for the party. Through these activities, we will strengthen our party organisation,” Mitra said.
Asked whether the outreach programmes are aimed at countering Shah’s rath yatras, Mitra said, “Our programme is part of a nationwide campaign of AICC. We are not competing with anyone, but yes, the Congress will oppose any sort of communal or divisive politics of the BJP and during our mass contact programme, we will speak out against it”.