In Durga Puja turf war, BJP no match for TMC

KOLKATA: The BJP may be accused of mixing religion with politics but when it comes to association with Durga puja, the saffron party is found to be no match for West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party.

In Durga Puja turf war, BJP no match for TMC

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurates a Durga Puja pandal, in Kolkata. PTI photo.

kavishakohli@gmail.com

Shubhadeep Choudhury                                                                      
Tribune News Service 
Kolkata, October 1

The BJP may be accused of mixing religion with politics but when it comes to association with Durga puja, the saffron party is found to be no match for West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party.

“Durga puja in West Bengal is not a typical religious event. It is more of a secular festival. Even the communist parties, who have no respect for religion, open stalls near Durga puja venues and sell their literature to the puja-hopping crowd”, points out Ajay Dasgupta, a writer.

The BJP’s plan to make an impact on the state’s Durga puja scene has turned out to be a huge failure. J P Nadda, BJP working president, recently spent two days in Kolkata and took part in various programmes but stayed away from the numerous community pujas organised in the metropolis by various clubs and neighbourhood-centric organisations.

BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah is slated to come to Kolkata on Tuesday to speak on the issue of the NRC. According to the programme circulated by the BJP here, Shah will be inaugurating a Durga puja at Bidhan Nagar area of the city in the evening. 

The puja committee at the Bidhan Nagar’s BJ Block headed by local BJP leader Umashankar G Dastidar is the only one that has invited Shah as against an estimated 10,000 invites for inauguration received by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

‘Didi’ has selected around 70 pujas in the city for inauguration out of the mass of invites received by her. She has been on an inauguration spree since September 27 so that she is done by October 5—the day marking the beginning of the three-day festivity.

The BJP – which has emerged as the second largest party in the state after the ruling TMC in the recently-held Lok Sabha polls – had big plans for taking control of some of the big ticket pujas in the city.

Attempts were even made to have a top BJP leader replace Mamata Banerjee for the inauguration of the puja by the Sanghasree club at Mamata’s home turf, Kalighat. But the plan did not work.

Most of the top TMC leaders – including Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee – are also patrons of major community Durga pujas in their respective localities.

Ujjayan Bhattacharjee, social science scholar, said if BJP was blocked from the Durga puja scene in Bengal, it will try to create an alternative puja culture for itself.

“Last couple of years have seen a proliferation of community Ganesha pujas in the city. This is something completely new. Nobody knows the source of funding of the Ganesha pujas because unlike Durga pujas, subscription from public is not sought for the Ganesha pujas. BJP may have a role to play behind this newfound popularity of Ganesha”, Bhattacharjee said.

 

 

 

 

 

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