TMC seeks Puja connect report
Puja 2019 is done and dusted but the homework for Trinamul leaders is far from done with most burning the midnight oil to file reports on an outreach overdrive Mamata Banerjee had ordered for the festival.
The reports — a virtual uncharted territory for the leaders and conceptualised by consultant Prashant Kishor’s team — have to be sent to Calcutta by October 18.
The BJP, too, has been working on similar dossiers and while this is not the first time it has been doing so, party leaders said the scale this time is much larger in the wake of unprecedented successes in Bengal in the general election. The BJP’s deadline for submission of the reports is October 31.
The reports, according to Trinamul sources, were deemed necessary as the BJP has not only made significant electoral inroads but had also tried — after an order from party chief Amit Shah — to enhance outreach using the platform of the festival.
“This has virtually become an extension of Didi Ke Bolo…. The outreach activities were not a problem. This paperwork is a pain,” said a south Bengal MLA of Trinamul.
Before Puja, the chief minister had told all elected representatives — MPs, MLAs, panchayat and civic functionaries — and key leaders not to leave their areas and to use the festival to connect in a better way with the masses.
The Trinamul high command, said sources, has sought reports on their performance. “The report card will comprise name of the leader, number of pandals visited on each day of Puja, whether there were any special drives, like the distribution of clothes or visiting rain-hit areas,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
“Everything has to be documented on an hourly basis, separately for each of the five days from Mahasashthi…. Unsubstantiated claims will not do. Everything has to be backed with documentary and photographic evidence,” he added.
Trinamul insiders said most of the leaders assigned such responsibilities had visited around 50 pandals and attended scores of Puja-related programmes.
“Our leaders have already sent us the photographs of them reaching out at puja pandals. I also visited many pandals and family pujas this time. We will send reports on our public relations exercises after Lakshmi Puja,” said Subhasish Batabyal, Trinamul’s Bankura president.
Trinamul’s district-level cells have started collating the information and putting together a larger database. Much of the work, they said, would be finished after Lakshmi Puja on Sunday, as many leaders remain busy through the week.
“We are waiting for the leaders to get over with immersions and the Lakshmi Puja outreach…. All our leaders have reached out to people and talked to them about the economic slowdown in the country and NRC-related issues,” said Abhijit Sinha, a Trinamul vice-president in Birbhum.
“In our district, areas like Nalhati were left inundated by heavy rain before Puja. Our MLAs and leaders reached out to those areas and distributed relief material,” Sinha added.
The BJP has instructed its 38 organisational district chiefs to submit their reports by the end of the month. The reports will explain what the leaders and elected representatives did to utilise the festival to enhance the party’s mass connect in Bengal.
“The MPs have WhatsApp groups where they have already posted reports of their performance in Puja. Reports from various districts will be submitted with photographs within this month,” said BJP state unit chief and MP Dilip Ghosh.
According to BJP state general-secretary Sayantan Basu, the party distributed clothes to economically challenged people in the districts. Trinamul has been doing this for years.
The Mahila Morcha of the BJP participated in the Vijaya Dashami ritual of sindoor khela.
BJP Hooghly chief Subir Nag said: “Our local MP Locket Chatterjee inaugurated 40 pujas in the district. We distributed booklets on NRC to pandal-hoppers to dispel baseless fears.”