- Amit Shah welcomed Trinamool rebels to BJP at Bengal rally
- Suvendu Adhikari, other Bengal MLAs joined the party
- Amit Shah is on a two-day visit to West Bengal
Union Home Minister Amit Shah welcomed high-profile Trinamool Congress rebel Suvendu Adhikari and several others to the BJP on Saturday at a mega rally in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur, sparing no shot at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"Why are so many people leaving Trinamool Congress? Because of the misrule, corruption and nepotism of Mamata Banerjee. Didi, this is just the beginning. By the time elections come, you will be left all alone," he said.
Besides Mr Adhikari, nine other MLAs from various parties and Trinamool MP Sunil Mondal joined the BJP in Mr Shah's presence. The former BJP chief reiterated that the party would form the next government in the state with more than 200 seats. West Bengal has a 294-member assembly.
Both Mr Shah and Mr Adhikari referred to growing discontent among the people and the party about the rise of Ms Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee. Mr Adhikari even gave the slogan, "Bhaipo Hatao (Remove The Nephew)".
"I have a long association with Amit Shah ji. I have been loved like a brother by the BJP. When I was afflicted by COVID-19, no one from the TMC for whom I have given my life, asked me how I was. But Amit Shah did, twice," Mr Adhikari said in his speech.
The Trinamool dissident first resigned from the cabinet on November 27 and then from the party on December 16. His associates have promised a "political storm more fierce than Cyclone Amphan" to sweep across Bengal from Darjeeling to Digha" that will usurp Ms Banerjee's government.
Mr Shah earlier cited the examples of freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose and Ramprasad Bismil to tell rival parties in West Bengal that indulging in regionalism was "shallow politics" and ought to be shunned - a possible counter to Trinamool's efforts at painting the BJP as "outsiders".
The Home Minister, accompanied by Bengal BJP leader like Dilip Ghosh and the party's West Bengal in-charge, Kailash Vijayvargiya, then went on to have lunch at a farmer's house in Belijuri village in West Midnapore district.
Mr Shah's West Bengal visit comes nine days after a convoy of BJP chief JP Nadda was attacked by alleged Trinamool workers, sparking a huge row between the centre and the state.
The BJP has been investing unprecedented amounts of time and resources in the state ahead of the polls, looking to replace the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress from power.
Ahead of Mr Shah's visit, the party had assigned parts of West Bengal to six Union Ministers to prep for the polls. These ministers have been tasked with taking charge of campaigning in various Lok Sabha seats.