KOLKATA: It’s a war to capture Bengal’s cultural and religious mind space. After making inroads into Tollywood, the BJP is about to target Trinamool’s supremacy in organising Durga Pujas — Bengal’s biggest religious festival which is to start on October 4. The route has opened up via the Lok Sabha elections which saw the Saffronites wresting control of Kalighat area, close to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s home.
The BJP has successfully replaced the Trinamool chief’s brother Kartik Banerjee from the post of the chief patron of the Sanghashree Club in Kalighat area, where Mamata had inaugurated the Puja last year.
The BJP leadership under new president-Bengal’s general secretary Sayantan Basu- plans to rope in party chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to do the honours this year and end the symbolism associated with Mamata.
“Mamata played the ‘Bangal card’ to woo puja organisers by extending them hefty donations to organise the festival. This year, the BJP will organise Durga Puja at several places across the state”, said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.In a bid to wrest control of clubs using the Durga Puja sentiment, the state government had in 2018 extended Rs 10,000 each to 28,000 clubs across the state to organise the festival.
Last week, the Income Tax notice served notices to the Durga Puja Committees Forum asking puja organisers who received financial assistance from the state government to furnish details of their expenditure. The chief minister, objected stridently to such ‘tax terror’, saying puja organisers should not be under I-T ambit. It did not help. Meanwhile, there are reports that at least two major puja committees in south Kolkata have warmed up to BJP overtures.
“At least 80 puja organisers are in touch with us this year and we are all set to be part of their Durga Puja committees,’’ said a senior BJP leader in Kolkata. Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised Durga Puja and Kali Puja issues on several occasions during his speeches in pre-Lok Sabha polls campaigns. He had accused Mamata of creating ‘an atmosphere of fear in Bengal’, due which people were scared to organise