19 Dec 2020: Shah reaches Bengal for two-day visit, will address rally today
BJP's top leader and the country's Home Minister, Amit Shah, arrived in West Bengal on Saturday, after 1 am. He will stay in the state for two days to take stock of the situation ahead of the high-voltage elections, slated to be held next year.
He was welcomed by several BJP supporters. Before his arrival, few posters sparked a row.
Here's what happened.
Poster row: Saffron colored posters placed Shah above Tagore, prompted controversy
Before Shah landed in the state capital Kolkata, posters dotted Bolpur and Shantiniketan in the Birbhum district. In the placards, Shah's picture was placed above that of legendary poet, Rabindranath Tagore.
The saffron-colored placards carried the name of a cultural organization as a sponsor.
Locals and students of Visva Bharti, the university established by Tagore, raised an objection, forcing BJP to jump to action.
Defense: Facing criticism from locals, BJP blamed Trinamool
After the row, BJP quickly distanced itself from the posters and blamed Trinamool, which is in power.
Anupam Hazra, who switched from Trinamool to BJP in 2019 and was tasked with overseeing preparations ahead of Shah's visit, said, "This was planned by the TMC. We were brought up in Shantiniketan. I was a student here. We know how to pay respects to Tagore."
War of words: Unsurprisingly, Trinamool said BJP insulted Gurudeb, latter hit back
Hazra also disclosed that BJP got the posters removed. Shah is slated to visit Bolpur on Sunday.
Tapping on the issue, Trinamool shared the poster on social media. "How dare you insult Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore AGAIN? (sic)" read a tweet.
Not being the one to keep quiet, the official handle of BJP Bengal replied, "Don't teach us about respecting Bengali icons! (sic)"
Fact: The tweets can be read here
Resignations: A known leader quit Trinamool recently
As evident from Friday's episode, the upcoming weeks until polls are bound to see nasty wars of words between BJP and Trinamool.
Before Shah's visit, Trinamool was hit by a number of resignations. The party lost heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, Silbhadra Dutta, Banashree Maity, and Jitendra Tiwari.
All of them are expected to join BJP.
MLA Dipali Biswas could also follow suit.
Joining BJP: In 'game-changing rally,' Trinamool dissenters likely to join BJP
The leaders who have exited Trinamool will reportedly join BJP in Midnapore, where Shah will address a massive rally.
BJP sources told TOI that nearly 30 members from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party will "turn saffron." They claimed the rally would be a "game-changer" in the politics of the state.
Tapasi Mondal, a member of CPM, is also expected to switch sides.
Fact: Visibly thrilled to be in Bengal, Shah tweeted pictures
Mood: Spree of resignations have left Trinamool workers confused
While BJP is ecstatic, despair, confusion, and anger dominated Trinamool. The exodus of leaders has clearly affected the workers.
A Trinamool worker, Sukhen Samaddar, said, "Can't you see what's happening? It is true that Suvendu is a big leader. The party should have resolved his grievances. So many people are leaving."
He hinted BJP was taking advantage of Trinamool's internal problems.