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TMC sought to dispel BJP's 'anti-Hindu' tag by allowing Durga Puja during pandemic: Party sources

TMC was in a fix over being repeatedly branded as "anti-Hindu" by the BJP and was desperate to dispel the image ahead of the next year's crucial assembly polls in the state, the sources said.

Published: 21st October 2020 08:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2020 08:50 PM   |  A+A-

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee inaugurates a Durga Puja in Kolkata. (Photo| PTI)

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee inaugurates a Durga Puja in Kolkata. (Photo| PTI)

By PTI

KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress government's decision to allow holding of Durga Puja in West Bengal, where it is considered its main festival, amid the COVID pandemic is an attempt to dispel the tag that the party is "anti-Hindu", TMC sources said on Wednesday.

TMC was in a fix over being repeatedly branded as "anti-Hindu" by the BJP and was desperate to dispel the image ahead of the next year's crucial assembly polls in the state, the sources said.

BJP has made deep inroads in the state,where it has never been in power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and has emerged as the main opposition.

Calcutta High Court had declared marquees as no entry zones for the devotees.

ALSO READ | After HC verdict, several Durga Puja committees put up barricades 10-metre from pandal

On Wednesday it partly modified its order on community Durga Pujas by allowing drummers in the no-entry zones of the marquees and raising the number of people who can be present there for big pujas from 25 to 60.

A senior TMC leader said since August a social media campaign was on that the state government will not allow Durga Puja in the state this year.

Though the TMC government had officially denied it, the state BJP unit had gone hammer and tongs against it on the issue.

"Had we not allowed Durga Puja to take place this time, the BJP and the opposition parties would have accused us of minority appeasement, of having an anti-Hindu mindset."

"Now that we have allowed Durga Puja, the lawyers- turned-leaders of the opposition parties went to the court to stop it. Now the ball is in the court of the opposition parties. We wanted to organize the Puja adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, but the opposition opposed it," a senior TMC leader said.

The views of the TMC leader was echoed by political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay, who feels that the party has been successful in delivering the political message to the majority Hindu population of the state.

"Whether TMC wanted the Puja to take place or not - that has now become immaterial. The government did not allow Eid, Muharram to take place but allowed Durga Puja. It has been successful in delivering the message to the Hindus of the state that it is not opposed to Durga puja," he said.

The TMC through its decision to allow Durga Puja this year despite a pandemic, wanted to undo the "political mistake" it had committed by not allowing Durga idol immersion on the day of Vijaya Dashami as it collided with Muharram in 2017, Bandopadhyay said.

Besides, the TMC government, which had last year doled out Rs 25,000 to the puja committees, increased the amount to Rs 50,000 this year to more than 37000 puja committees along with a complete waiver of municipal and fire department taxes and a 50 percent waiver on electricity bills.

ALSO READ | Mamata Banerjee urges residents of old age home to stay indoors during Durga Puja

The opposition CPI(M) and Congress believe that the TMC government allowed Durga Puja festivities in order to gain political mileage ahead of the next year's April-May assembly polls.

"We don't have any problem with Durga Puja. But we have problem with the festivities.The government should have ensured that the festivities and this crowd during the Puja are avoided." Leader of Opposition in West Bengal assembly Abdul Mannan said.

BJP, which is itself organising a Durga Puja this time, thinks that competition over attracting crowds at Puja marquees should be stopped this time.

"We want the Durga Puja festivities to take place. But we are against the competition of attracting crowds at various Puja marquees. It should not happen this time, we welcome the court verdict," BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said.

The TMC said the HC order will be strictly implemented though some of the puja organisers would feel disappointed as they have spent lakhs of rupees on the marquees.

"Many organizers work very hard to make the Durga Puja possible. They will be disappointed this time. People wait for the entire year for this annual festival. But all of us have to follow the court order. It will be strictly followed and implemented," TMC leader Sougato Roy said.



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