Mr Shah sat cross-legged on the floor of the hut and ate his meal. Excited villagers clicked selfies with Ms Mahali, who works on a farm as a daily wager. Her husband Raju Mahali is a house painter.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not in Kolkata, She was closer, only about 170 km away in Cooch Behar, also in north Bengal. She hit back at Mr Shah's BJP, saying, "We do not believe in the BJP's Hindutva which divides people. They are not Hindus. They defame Hinduism. They create communal tension in the name of religion."
The BJP chief's three-day tour of Bengal will take him next to Bhabanipur, Chief Minister Mamata' Banerjee's assembly constituency. His focus is on strengthening the BJP at the grass roots ahead of crucial panchayat or local body elections in the state next year and then the 2019 national election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term.
Bengal's "grassroots" party, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress - Trinamool means grassroots - dismisses Amit Shah's visit as one of many by many leaders from outside trying to make a dent in Bengal.
The BJP is buoyed by the by-election result earlier this month for the South Kanthi Assembly seat. The Trinamool won the seat as expected, but the BJP was a strong second with 31 per cent votes, pushing main opposition party the CPM to a poor third. In last year's assembly elections, the BJP had got barely nine per cent votes in South Kanthi.
Mr Shah will over the next 15 days travel across five states as he attempts to expand his party's footprint in regions where it has been traditionally weak. The "yatra" takes him to Odisha next and then to Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
To win Bengal is a tall ambition; the BJP had won two parliament seats in the 2014 national elections, three assembly seats in last year's state election. Mamata Banerjee's party had swept both. Ms Banerjee who in 2012 had ousted the Left, which had ruled for three decades, has so far been challenged by no sign of an anti-incumbency sentiment.
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