Speaking in the Uttar Dinajpur district of India’s eastern state of West Bengal, Shah’s comments were directed towards illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
“These infiltrators are like termites on the land of Bengal. They are a threat to the security of the nation and they are snatching away the livelihoods of our poor people,” he told the crowd.
The party chief vowed to “throw these infiltrators out” as voting for India’s general election, the world’s biggest democratic exercise, began on Thursday.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India from Muslim-majority Bangladesh after it declared independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971, setting off a nine-month civil war.
Most of them settled in West Bengal and the neighbouring state of Assam, where there are similar demands to send back illegal Muslim immigrants.
(Production: Kristian Brunse, Rosalind Church)