In an attempt to shed its tag of a Hindi heartland party, and project “Bangaliana”, or Bengaliness, the state BJP on Thursday celebrated Durga Puja, its first ever, at the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) in Kolkata’s Salt Lake area.
The party’s women leaders and members were decked in traditional “laal-paar” sarees — white sarees with red borders — while the men donned dhoti-kurta, including national leaders such as Kailash Vijayvargiya and Arvind Menon.
“We are trying to project our ‘bangaliana’ face. Durga Puja has its own emotions when it comes to Bengalis. Therefore, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the people of Bengal, and in Bengali language of course. This will also prove that we are desperate to win the state elections,” a senior party leader said in front of the pandal. Former Salt Lake mayor and the man who organised the puja, Sabyasachi Dutta, said, “Anyone can worship Durga. Just the date has to be right. There is no obstacle to worship.”
A senior leader of BJP said, “If you want to become the ruling party of Bengal, you have to first be Bengali. Then you should have a cultured personality. We are now trying to prove both, because we are now close to coming to power in Bengal.”
The pandal’s main decorator, Raja Banik, said the order to build the marquee was received only on October 15. “All things are made with traditional Bengali art and culture. The idol is draped with traditional ‘Daker Saaj’,” he added.
The imprint of Bangaliana is also apparent in the cultural events that have been planned. One of the main events was the “Mahishasuramardini” dance by Dona Ganguly, the wife of BCCI chief and former Indian Men’s cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.
The party has also hired 25 “dhakis [traditional drummers]”, 17 of whom are women from Maslandapur in North 24 Parganas district.
On Thursday, senior BJP leaders such as Vijayvargiya, Locket Chatterjee, Supriyo, Debasree Chowdhury, and Raju Banerjee went on to the stage in the middle of a programme and started playing the “dhak [traditional drum]“ and conch shells.
When the PM started his speech, the BJP leaders at the event welcomed him with the traditional Bengali ululation.
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