KOLKATA: In a bid to invade the ruling TMC's political space, the BJP’s West Bengal chapter will organise Durga Puja in Salt Lake. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate it on October 22 with his address via a special webcast titled ‘Puja Ki Baat’.
BJP’s move to organise the puja is said to be the first of its kind in the recent history of Bengal’s festivals and it appears to be an attempt to woo the Bengali speaking voters ahead of 2021 Assembly elections.
Earlier, many politicians were inducted in the puja committees but no puja has so far been organised under the banner of a political party. In 2016, the CPI(M) state headquarters allowed Marxists to be part of Durga Puja committees to boost its waning social connect.
The venue of the puja, which will be portrayed as BJP’s, will be the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre’s building in Salt Lake which is under the Union ministry of culture.
BJP’s general secretary in Bengal Locket Chatterjee, who is in-charge of organising the puja, said it would be like any other puja that is celebrated at home. "Many families celebrate Durga Puja at their home. Similarly, it will be a puja of BJP family," she said.
The saffron camp’s decision is said to be a well-calculated move to send a message that the BJP is not an anti-Bengali party. On many occasions, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee portrayed the BJP as a party for non-Bengali people.
"At many places, puja organisers wanted our leaders to be in the committees but the ruling party’s leaders did not allow it. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has been using the puja platforms not only to reach out to the carnivalesque masses but also to establish her footing in the traditional Hindu rituals and culture which Durga Puja embodies," said a BJP leader.
In the TMC camp, CM Mamata Banerjee, for the first time, decided to inaugurate Durga Pujas in districts through virtual platforms. She already started inaugurating pujas in north Bengal to ensure deep inroads into the region where the saffron camp’s onslaught whitewashed TMC in the 2019 Lk Sabha polls. In Kolkata, she will physically inaugurate some of the pujas.
"Inaugurating Durga Puja in Kolkata has been Mamata Banerjee’s forte. This year, her pandal inaugurations prayer with folded hands before the Goddess will send a positive message to the Hindu voters as the BJP is not only trying to polarise them but also accusing the CM of appeasing the minority. It will definitely give us electoral dividend to some extent," said a senior TMC leader.