The families of over 50 BJP workers allegedly killed in political violence in West Bengal have been invited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath ceremony, in what is seen as a piercing political message for the state and its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The families, designated “special invitees” to the grand event on Thursday, will stay in Delhi in the care of the BJP, sources say.
The decision was taken in a marathon five-hour meeting between PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah at the Prime Minister’s home in Delhi last night. “A list of special invitees is ready and will soon be given to the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said sources.
The BJP workers were allegedly killed over the past six years during Panchayat or local body polls and the national election, say party leaders. That they have been given special place among 7,000 invitees to PM Modi’s second inauguration is intended as a big message ahead of the 2021 assembly election in Bengal, say sources.
BJP leaders say the gesture is meant to convey to the party’s cadre in Bengal that the central leadership cares for them and stands by them against “violence by Trinamool Congress workers”.
Many of the workers were allegedly killed during the Panchayat elections last year. Amit Shah paid tribute to the workers even in his address at the party’s victory meeting on May 23, after the Lok Sabha results.
The national election in Bengal was also marked by clashes between workers of Mamata Banerjee’s party and the BJP during every round of voting.
In the bitterly-fought election that saw PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah address multiple rallies and Mamata Banerjee attempting to match them on every allegation and every barb, the BJP zoomed to 18 seats from two in 2014 while the Trinamool dropped sharply from 34 to 22 of Bengal’s 42 seats.
Making it clear that it is not quite done, the BJP yesterday flaunted nearly 60 defectors from Trinamool, including two lawmakers, and said more would jump ship in a total of seven rounds, further weakening Mamata Banerjee’s grip on the state where she stormed to power in 2012 after ending three decades of Left rule.
Hours after the Trinamool members joined BJP, Mamata Banerjee confirmed receiving an invite to PM Modi’s oath and indicated that she would go, as it was her constitutional obligation as Chief Minister.