The Mamata Banerjee government is in the process of implementing a slew of initiatives to make its flagship grievance redress platform — Sarasari Mukhyamantri (Direct to Chief Minister) — more effective and accessible for people across Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The telephone-based grievance redress platform was launched by the chief minister in June and is similar to Didi Ke Bolo (Tell Didi), which was run by I-PAC led by poll consultant Prashant Kishor after the Trinamul Congress’s poor show in the 2019
Lok Sabha polls.
However, Sarasari Mukhyamantri is a platform run by the government, while Didi Ke Bolo was a political reachout drive.
“Our target is to make the platform more accessible and popular as more people can connect with the office of the chief minister to air their grievances. Though over two lakh grievances have been filed so far, the plan is to reach out to as many people to ensure that they can vent their ire,” said a senior state government official.
A source said 2.12 lakh grievances had been filed with Sarasari Mukhyamantri in the past three months from the day of its launch, while over five lakh people contacted the Didi Ke Bolo platform within two months of its launch in July 2019.
The Didi Ke Bolo platform had been active till the Assembly polls.
A source in Trinamul said the attempts to make the Sarasari Mukhyamantri initiative more effective were important as the party was keen to know the problem areas as it wanted to address them before the battle of 2024.
“We could not gauge the grudge among people on the ground in 2019 and that was why the party had a poor show in the Lok Sabha polls.... Didi Ke Bolo helped us a lot as it created an outlet for people to vent their ire. We are sure that people reaching out through the Sarasari Mukhyamantri window will be either complaining or giving suggestions. But that’s important for us as we need to know people’s opinions,” said a source.
A few days ago, Nabanna sent an order to district magistrates across Bengal to promote the social media pages of Sarasari Mukhyamantri in their areas as many people can reach out to the government on virtual platforms.
“In order to extend the reach further, it is suggested that the Facebook, Twitter (currently, X), and Instagram pages of the Sarasari Mukhyomantri may be liked and followed by your offices and other State government offices in your districts. The contents which are being posted regularly may be shared by your offices down the line...,” the order issued on September 23 reads.
A senior official in Nabanna said it had been decided to register grievances even if anyone posted them on social media.
“So far, we were considering grievances lodged through phone calls only. Now we would consider all complaints lodged on social media as well. It would help us redress lakhs of grievances as people are savvy with social media rather than calling a number,” the official said.
Several political observers believed that Didi Ke Bolo, through which more than 50 lakh people reached the chief minister, played a big role in Mamata’s return to power for the third time in a row.
“The current redress system should be more trustworthy for the people as it is run by the government,” an official said.
The chief minister’s office has also formed a special team with a set of senior officials who will visit districts and directly talk to those who would lodge complaints with the redressal platform.
“The visit of teams from Calcutta will have twofold benefits. First, the people who lodge complaints will be satisfied to see the effort. Second, we can also gauge the performance of the local administration in addressing the problems,” said an official.
Posters and festoons carrying the number of redress platforms along with links to social media pages will be put up in public places.
“In the future, we could open a separate control room in districts for the speedy redressal of the complaints of the areas concerned,” he added.