Trinamul will distribute 10,000 copies of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography among youths in West Burdwan, the first such move by the ruling party apparently aimed at combating Gandhi-centric programmes planned by the BJP from Tuesday.
Trinamul leaders in West Burdwan have ordered 5,000 copies each in Bengali and Hindi of The Story of My Experiments with Truth, the story of Gandhi’s life from his early childhood till 1921.
Sources said after competing over mass outreach during Puja — Trinamul won that race comfortably as its leaders were in greater demand for pandal inaugurations — both parties are now locking horns over the Father of the Nation whose sesquicentennial celebrations began on October 2.
The book distribution plan comes weeks after the Mamata Banerjee government asked all state-run schools to observe Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2 on their campuses, bucking the trend of the state’s “holiday culture”.
In West Burdwan, Trinamul said they had ordered copies of the book, after talks with senior leaders in Calcutta, to inspire youths with the principles and philosophy of Gandhi.
Since its inception over two decades ago, Trinamul has been mostly distributing books authored by party chief Mamata, although its government handed out thousands of copies of Barna Parichay by Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar last month to celebrate the bicentennial of the polymath.
“In the current scenario in our country, it is important to motivate youths with the principles and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. We will get the books in November and distribute them. The book will help the new generations understand the thoughts, philosophies and ideologies of the Father of the Nation,” said Jitendra Kumar Tiwari, the district Trinamul chief and Asansol mayor.
The five-part autobiography was written in weekly instalments and published in Gandhi’s journal Navjivan between 1925 and 1929. It was written in Gujrati and later translated in English.
Trinamul sources said every district unit was free to come up with its own ideas — cultural programmes, lectures, seminars, exhibitions, film shows — for the Gandhi sesquicentennial events but all had been instructed to go big with the programmes as the BJP has lined up its “Gandhi Sankalp Yatra”.
On Sunday, the state unit of the BJP announced the yatra between October 15 and 26 across each of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha constituencies.
“For Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, we will walk 150km in each constituency over 10 days to spread his ideology of non-violence and social reforms. The initiatives are more social, than political,” said state unit chief Dilip Ghosh.
“During our yatra, we will talk about non-violence in politics, water conservation, tree plantation, environment conservation and Swachh Bharat initiatives, besides central schemes,” he said, adding the yatra would also feature tableaux with “nationalist” songs.
Trinamul saw in the plans efforts to “hijack Gandhi”. “The saffron camp is trying to hijack Gandhi, although he stood against everything they propagate. We have always been Gandhians,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
“Since the first week of October coincided with the festival spell, we had kept our plans on hold. Now, our leaders will organise programmes in every district to pay homage to Gandhiji. The guidelines would be issued by our chief minister on Tuesday.”