Following the BJP’s onslaught against the Mamata Banerjee government following the Covid-19 pandemic and the destruction wreaked by Cyclone Amphan, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is now taking on the saffron party on social media and other online platforms. A network of youths being recruited now is central to the party’s strategy to win this battle.
The ruling party’s shift in strategy is a result of the success of the BJP, which has a formidable online presence. A number of senior TMC leaders and state ministers first went after the BJP after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s virtual rally on June 9, accusing the party of prioritising next year’s Assembly elections over the problems plaguing the state.
On Sunday, TMC MP and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi after West Bengal did not feature in the Centre’s “Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan”. A number of other party leaders then joined in, criticising the Centre.
The ruling party is also trying to attract youths to combat the BJP’s political attacks. On June 11, Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Youth Congress president, launched a platform called “Banglar Yubo Shakti [Bengal’s Youth Power]” to draw in over one lakh youngsters. Sources had then said the initiative would enable the TMC to gauge the mood of the youth, and find new leaders.
These leaders would be designated as “Yubo Yoddhas [Youth Warriors]”, the MP had said, adding, “This will be a well-oiled TMYC apparatus will be effectively utilised to identify and directly reach out to such noble and motivated youth from across the state. To this end, three committees – State, District and Field – have been created, comprising around 2,800 TMYC members for the effective implementation of this initiative. These people are willing to help people in their neighbourhoods and communities during this time of crisis.”
Banerjee has said 55,000 youths have already been recruited. According to sources in the TMC, after registration a “youth warrior” will be redirected to a WhatsApp group of others like them in their Assembly constituency.
“We want to make it a solid network of youth forces to combat BJP’s social networking campaign. For this purpose, after a period of 30 days, a mega virtual interactive session will be organised to meet and interact with the one lakh ‘yubo yoddhas’ and to inform them about the activities that they need to undertake towards the endeavour of helping the people of Bengal,” said a TMC youth leader.
According to the leader, these new recruits will be initially used for relief work, and then for combatting the BJP’s social media campaign. “This will also help to combat the BJPs campaign of corruption in relief work in panchayat and municipal areas,” he added.
The TMC is also planning to initiate street campaigns to counter the BJP’s charges against it. Mamata Banerjee has already ordered state and district leaders to begin campaigning against the BJP across the state.
“In this severe crisis situation, the government cannot make everyone happy. The BJP is taking advantage of that to use people’s sentiments against the ruling party. So, we have to start counter-campaigns against the BJP and the Central government,” said a senior TMC leader.
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