Bolstered by its Lok Sabha success, BJP now wants to be part of Durga Puja in big way throughout Bengal. Party leaders are approaching Durga Puja organisers to be a part of the committees, in a bid to steal the show from Trinamool Congress. Leaders have also expressed keenness to get sponsors and top national leaders for inauguration. The move is also aimed to counter Trinamool Congress’ ‘Bengali’ image push.
Durga Puja is scheduled to be held from October 4, and presently organising committees are being formed in various communities and club-based festivities.
While Left leaders did not associate themselves with the organising committees, TMC leaders were at the helm of major Durga Pujas in Kolkata and the districts even before 2011. Post-2011, majority of Durga Puja committees had TMC leaders as its patron or president. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself had inaugurated dozens of Durga Pujas in Kolkata, most of which had TMC leaders in the organising committees. The Bengal government also organises a Durga Puja carnival on Red Road after the festival is over.
BJP put up a good show in Bengal in this Lok Sabha polls getting 18 seats, while TMC got 22. In areas, where BJP won, party leaders stated that they were getting calls from the local Puja committees for their active participation.
“Our party leaders and workers will be part of Durga Puja throughout Bengal. I myself will inaugurate Pujas,” said Dilip Ghosh, BJP state president.
“We have asked all party leaders, portfolio holders and workers to approach Puja committees and clubs. It is the biggest festival of Bengal and we want to be part of the organising committee. However, unlike TMC we don’t believe in controlling it,” said Dinesh Pandey, BJP president of North Kolkata district. “We have promised these clubs and committees that if they want, we can get them good sponsors. We can also request national party leaders to inaugurate Durga Pujas.”
Aimed to counter TMC’s ‘Bengali’ image
Through this, BJP plans to combat TMC’s push to build up a ‘Bengali’ image in the state that goes to the polls in two years. Since the Lok Sabha polls, Mamata Banerjee’s party has put up busts of several Bengal luminaries, including Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, whose bust was vandalised during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata, and Swami Vivekananda. Pitching itself against “outsider” BJP, TMC MPs raised slogans of “Joy Bangla” and “Joy Ma Kali” during the recent Lok Sabha swearing-in event. Banerjee also asked Hindi-speakers to learn Bangla. By focusing on Durga Puja, which the Banerjee government claims to have put special focus on, the saffron party hopes to take the wind out of TMC’s Bengali identity sails.
According to BJP sources, party portfolio holders are promising good sponsorship to the organisers, which is vital keeping in mind the huge budget of Durga Pujas. Secondly, the party is keen to bring in leaders like Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Yogi Adityanath among other national leaders to inaugurate these pujas across the state.
Through this initiative, BJP also plans to combat TMC’s push to build up a ‘Bengali’ image in the state. Post Lok Sabha polls, TMC has put up busts of several Bengali luminaries, including Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar — whose bust was vandalised during Shah’s road show in Kolkata — and Swami Vivekananda. TMC MP’s were also seen chanting ‘Joy Bangla’ during their swearing-in at Lok Sabha recently. Banerjee too in her recent speeches stressed on Bengali and even asked Hindi speakers to learn the language.
BJP, which is known to participate and organise Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti across Bengal, had earlier got little space to be part of Durga Puja committees. Even during Ram Navami celebrations in April, while Lok Sabha polls were on, BJP leaders were seen leading rallies across Bengal.
“TMC believes in grabbing power, even in Durga Puja committees. We do not believe that. Our motto is that festivals are for all and our workers and leaders will be part of the Pujas in their own neighbourhoods. It is also true that this time after Lok Sabha polls we are getting calls from various clubs and community Pujas to be part of it. We are willingly accepting such proposals,” said Subir Nag, BJP president of Hooghly district, where Locket Chatterjee won the Lok Sabha seat, defeating two-time TMC MP Ratna De Nag.
Debashish Chakraborty, BJP president of Jalpaiguri district, said: “I am part of the Puja organising committee in my neighbourhood. But many of our workers and leaders, who were earlier not allowed to take part, are now getting calls from organisers and clubs. They will be part of the festivities.” Jayanta Kumar Roy, BJP candidate, won from this seat.
“This time we will be part of many organising committees, but it is nothing to boast about. This is a natural phenomenon and every one has a right to the festivities,” said Durga Prasad Sharma, BJP district president of Alipurduar.