BJP yet to get a puja for Modi’s address
BJP leaders in Bengal are still hunting for puja mandaps for the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to the people of the state on October 22 as most organisers are refusing to install giant screens or monitors.
“Most of the puja committees are refusing to let us install giant screens or monitors.… We had plans to get a maximum number of puja committees on board for the programme. But that hasn’t happened at least till now,” said a BJP state leader.
The BJP central leadership had instructed the state unit to use the puja mandaps for Modi’s address on October 22.
“Our district leaders are informing us that the puja committees are rejecting our proposal... Most of these puja committees have taken the grant of Rs 50,000 from the state government and that’s acting as a deterrent,” said another state BJP leader.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the state government would give a grant of Rs 50,000 to each Puja. Besides, she also announced a waiver of 50 per cent on electricity rates and complete waiver of fees that civic bodies and the fire brigade charge from puja committees.
Sources in the state government said around 50,000 puja committees had already availed themselves of the package. “The government’s largesse for the organisers has taken away the advantage we gained during last year’s puja,” said a BJP leader.
After the BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the general election, party leaders inaugurated hundreds of Pujas last tear. But this year, most of the pujas have gone back to the Trinamul fold.
A BJP leader in Hooghly recounted that party MP Locket Chatterjee had inaugurated 56 Durga Pujas in Hooghly alone last year.
“We haven’t received a single invitation for inauguration so far this year. It seems the puja organisers are maintaining a distance from us... Against this backdrop, you can imagine how difficult it is for us to convince them to install giant screen or monitors for the PM’s programme,” the Hooghly BJP leader said.
The Hooghly district president of the BJP, Gautam Chatterjee, however, tried to put up a brave face and said the party was still hopeful of getting on board at least 100 puja committees to telecast Modi’s address.
BJP leaders in other districts like Birbhum and East Burdwan said they were facing resistance from Trinamul in getting the puja mandaps for the October 22 address.
“Trinamul always tries to stop any event of the BJP and this time, it is with money,” said Shyamapada Mondal, BJP’s Birbhum president.
Trinamul leaders said the decision by the chief minister to inaugurate pujas in districts also helped the party push the BJP away from the inauguration scene. “We know that BJP is contacting puja committees with requests to telecast Narendra Modi’s speech. But no committees are agreeing as they love their chief minister,” said Asish Banerjee, the state agriculture minister.
He added that he and his other colleagues are flooded with invitations for inauguration pujas this year.