Smriti Irani to replace 'unwell' Amit Shah in West Bengal rallies as BJP chief flies back

Amit Shah was slated to address rallies in Birbhum, Jhargram, Nadia and South 24 Parganas as well, but owing to poor health, he had to cut short his visit to West Bengal.

Smriti Irani to replace 'unwell' Amit Shah in West Bengal rallies as BJP chief flies back
Pic Courtesy: PTI

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah cut short his visit to West Bengal on Tuesday as he decided to return to the national capital after addressing a rally in Malda. As per the original programme, Shah was slated to address rallies in Birbhum, Jhargram, Nadia and South 24 Parganas as well, but owing to poor health, he had to cut short his visit to the state for 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign.

The same was confirmed by BJP’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh, who said that the rallies would be held as scheduled even in the absence of Amit Shah. Ghosh also said that Smriti Irani would replace Amit Shah in some of the rallies.

“Amit Shah will fly back to Delhi. The four other rallies will be held as per schedule without the (BJP) president. While I will lead the rally in Jhargram, the rally in Birbhum will be led by senior leader Smriti Irani,” said Ghosh.

Sources in the state BJP said that Shah was running high temperatures even as he was holding a meeting at Malda on Tuesday and that he has not fully recovered from swine flu. Shah was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi last week after being detected with swine flu. While he was discharged days later, sources said that he was yet to recover fully.

Later, senior leaders decided to replace Shah with Smriti Irani at the remaining rallies. On January 24, two rallies will be held at Nadia and South 24 Parganas district, and they would be led by Union minister Smriti Irani.

Before returning to the national capital, the BJP chief addressed a rally in Malda, wherein he declared that he had come to “sound the bugle for 2019 polls”.

“I am here in Bengal to sound the bugle for 2019 polls. Country’s future depends on this election and most importantly, Bengal’s future depends on this election. We will dethrone Trinamool Congress from Bengal. Trinamool Congress is stopping BJP from taking out the Rath Yatra,” said Shah, launching a scathing attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.

He added, “This election will restore faith in democracy in Bengal. This election will bring back the Bengal of Vivekananda, Subhas Chandra Bose, Surya Sen.”

Apart from this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Brigade rally, scheduled to be held on February 8, has also been cancelled. However, Prime Minister Modi will be holding three other rallies in West Bengal in January.

The first rally will be held on January 28, either in Siliguri or in Jalpaiguri, of which the final venue is yet to be decided. The second and third rallies will be held in Thakurnagar and Asansol respectively.