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BJP challenges Trinamool in Bengal Durga Puja celebrations

By Sirshendu Panth

Kolkata, Oct 1 (udaipur kiran) The top leaders are hard pressed to cope with the huge demand for inaugurating marquees, the cadres are going door to door to educate people on issues like Article 370, triple talaq and NRC, while the women’s arm plans to distribute tea free of cost during the festival days – the BJP has its hands full during the upcoming Durga Puja celebrations, virtually challenging the decade-long hegemony of the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal’s biggest carnival.

Though Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee still towers above all other politicians in the sheer number of appeals she receives from community Durga Puja organisers to inaugurate or grace their marquees, some of the BJP leaders are also flooded with requests.

As per a source, around 10,000 of the estimated 28,000 community Durga Puja committees in the state – mostly controlled by Trinamool leaders – have requested Banerjee to unveil their idols. Running from one end of the city to another, the Chief Minister is likely to inaugurate between 50 and 100 such marquees, having started the exercise from last Friday.

Besides, she has drawn the eyes of the goddess at the Chetla Agrani Sangha and composed the theme song of Suruchi Sangha – both in South Kolkata.

The five-day festival beginning on October 4 is considered as the biggest event in this part of the world when even newspapers don’t hit the streets and roads are choked with human traffic throughout the day and night.

In an indication that the BJP is clawing its way onto the Durga Puja bandwagon, a senior leader said the party has received requests from a minimum 400-500 puja committees to inaugurate their marquees.

“We are getting so many invitations to inaugurate marquees that we are unable to schedule all of them in our diary. A minimum of 400-500 puja organisers in Kolkata and its neighbourhood want us. I myself have received such invitations from 40-50 puja committees,” BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu told udaipur kiran.

But the star attraction is Union home minister and BJP national president Amit Shah, who is scheduled to inaugurate the BJ Block community puja in Salt Lake – a posh satellite town of Kolkata – on Tuesday evening.

“After Amit ji leaves on October 2, we will start inaugurating the puja festivities. We could not do that between September 29 and October 1 as we were pre-occupied with preparing for Amit ji’s visit, said Bose.

He said that state president Dilip Ghosh, Union ministers Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri, and other senior leaders like Rahul Sinha and Mukul Roy have also received many requests from organisers. Apart from Ghosh and the two Union ministers, the other 15 Lok Sabha members of the party would also remain busy with inaugurations in their constituencies.

“We are more than satisfied with the response. The Trinamool tried to play all kinds of mischief. They created disturbances by using the police and threatening a number of puja organisers,” Basu said.

Another party general secretary Raju Banerjee said the party plans to set up a large number of stalls around the puja marquees, where, besides books and periodicals, leaflets containing campaign material on the National Register of Citizens would also be displayed.

“The leaflets will try to allay fears among the Hindus that they may be affected by the NRC,” Banerjee told udaipur kiran.

Though unable to give the exact number of stalls the party plans to put up, Banerjee said “At this stage I can tell you the number will be four-five times we put up on earlier occasions. It will cover 90 per cent of community pujas”.

“Ten per cent of the stalls will have be left out as there will be hurdles. Permissions from puja organisers will not be forthcoming in some of the localities,” he said.

Not to be left behind, the BJP state Mahila Morcha has already distributed five lakh stickers centred around the festival on banning of triple talaq and repeal of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Women workers are going door to door in a public relations exercise to distribute the stickers to the people,” state morcha president and Lok Sabha member Locket Chatterjee told udaipur kiran.

The morcha activists are also coming up with tea stalls in their own localities to distribute the beverage free of cost during the puja festival.

“I still don’t have reports on the number of stalls that will come up. But the figure will be sizeable,” Chatterjee, an actress turned politician, told udaipur kiran.

However, the party’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha has deferred its project of organising a statewide sit-and-draw competition during the festival on repeal of Article 370.

“With the back-to-back visits of (BJP working president) J.P. Nadda (last week) and Amit ji, our workers did not get sufficient time to organise the event. We have deferred the programme. We will now organise the competition just before Diwali,” BJYM state general secretary Tapas Ghosh told udaipur kiran.

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga, accompanied by her four children – Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati – descends on earth every year to visit her parents to fight evil. This is the occasion that the puja celebrates.

Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishasur, comes astride her lion mount and wields an array of weapons in her 10 hands in symbolic representation of Shakti, or woman power.

–udaipur kiran

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