KOLKATA 12 OCT : The upcoming Durga Puja have presented the best platform for politicking in West Bengal. Two major political parties – TMC and the BJP are aiming at gaining more ground, now more than ever ahead of the Durga Puja. From raising and spreading awareness over the pandemic among the masses to reaching out more, both aims to grab more attention.
Significantly while PM Narendra Modi has announced that he will virtually address the people of Bengal on the occasion of Durga Puja, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is all set to hold an organisational meeting too in North Bengal . Meanwhile Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already upped her game through the launch of her awareness campaign for the puja starting on Monday.
The state BJP unit and the Trinamool Congress both now want to be the first and the most efficient ones to create awareness among the masses using virtual media. The state government has already issued guidelines to be followed by all the puja organisers to contain the spread of the virus.
It may be mentioned here that the number of fresh cases of Covid-19 cases reported every day has now shot up alarmingly in Kolkata. This can be attributed to the fact that crowd gathering at markets for puja shopping.
With the sharp spike in corona cases ahead of Durga Puja, organisers have decided to cancel the cultural events like earlier years to avoid crowding.
Kailash Vijaywargiya, BJP national general secretary, said, ”Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually address the people of Bengal on the occasion of Durga Puja on October 22. Apart from this Union Home Minister, Amit Shah will visit North Bengal before the pujas and will hold an organisational meeting.”
Moreover, Mamata said that this year she will virtually inaugurate the big puja pandals, unlike earlier years. She announced the virtual inaugural dates from the Nabanna on Monday. They are scheduled to be held on October 15,16, 17. She urges one and all to mandatorily wear face masks and keep up the social distance while visiting a puja pandal. She asked the puja organisers to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines laid down by the state government. The puja committees were advised by Didi to make special seating arrangements inside the puja pandal keeping the health protocol in mind.
Banerjee also visited the Chetla Agrani Sangha puja on Monday. She drew the eyes of Goddess Durga with her hands and thus, marked the inauguration of the puja here.
Banerjee while addressing a puja inaugural event of a local, weekly magazine, Jago Bangla, said, ”Every year, on this day, we used to invite many celebrities to inaugurate the puja magazine of Jago Bangla. But this year, we have not invited any guests due to the pandemic. We have inaugurated the puja here by maintaining all COVID-19 protocol and by involving the smallest number of people.”
According to Banerjee, Delhi did not give permission for the Durga Puja celebrations except to the CR Park puja committee. Other states like Uttar Pradesh didn’t even allow the Durga Puja celebrations at all. “Durga Puja is one of our most-awaited and important festivals. So, we have allowed the celebrations. But I urge all people to wear a mask and follow all precautionary measures and follow the COVID-19 protocols issued by the state,” added Mamata.
Over 37,000 puja to be organised across the state of Bengal this year. This list includes more than 2,500 alone in Kolkata and 1,700 pujas organised especially by women. However, this list does not include the puja held inside housing societies and at homes.
TMC and BJP sets eyes on Durga Puja ahead of Assembly Polls 2021
The ensuing Durga puja has presented with a nice opportunity for politicking in Bengal, with the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. Two main political parties, the TMC and the BJP are looking for visibility, now, more than ever. They both are aiming to grab more attention during the Durga Puja festival.
With less than half a year to go for the assembly elections now, both the parties are trying to woo the voters during this festive season. It is the first major festival since March lockdown. Trinamool Congress has already offered puja stipend of Rs 1,000 per month to priests in Bengal this year. The activities range from patronisation of pujas, doles for specific communities and not-so-rare controversial religious overtones. Though the influence of such actions on the voters after six months is not known, political parties, particularly TMC and BJP won’t spare any chance to be seen on the right side of the divide.
Furthermore, the state government has already cancelled the post-immersion carnival this year to avoid crowding. Puja organisers have also been advised to keep the pandals as airy and open as possible. Banerjee has also announced Rs 50,000 to each puja committee.
Political Analysts Opine
Political analysts are of the opinion that with Assembly elections next year, both BJP and Trinamool Congress is trying to gain support from the people over the Durga Puja celebrations. The festival seems to have become the best platform to showcase their agenda to the people of Bengal.
Amol Mukherjee, a senior political analyst, said, “As this is a pandemic year, both the parties have decided to appeal to the voters to make themselves aware about the COVID-19 protocols and measures they need to take while they visit the puja pandals.”