TMC derails BJP’s Durga Puja plan in West Bengal

According to state BJP sources, several leaders were shunted out of these puja committees at the behest of the TMC after being given key posts, which has turned out to be embarrassing for the party. PTI file photo

BJP’s strategy of taking on the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal by wresting control of big-ticket Durga Pujas in Kolkata is facing a setback with most of such puja committees going back to the TMC's fold after leaning initially towards the saffron party.

According to state BJP sources, several leaders were shunted out of these puja committees at the behest of the TMC after being given key posts, which has turned out to be embarrassing for the party.

For the TMC, the pujas have been a time-tested medium of public outreach. Alerted by the BJP’s effort to gain control of the Durga Pujas, the party tasked its senior local leaders with convincing the puja organisers to come back to the TMC's fold, and they have succeeded in it to a great extent.

One such instance is an old Durga Puja in the Kalighat area of South Kolkata located in the neighbourhood of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Although the state BJP managed to make its vice president Sayantan Basu the secretary of the Sanghasree Puja committee, the committee was dissolved recently.

“We had even planned to get the Durga Puja inaugurated by Home Minister Amit Shah to send a strong message to the TMC. But our plan has come to halt for now,” a senior state BJP said. He alleged that the related Durga Puja Committee took the decision after being intimidated by TMC.

“Even now, 54 puja committees are in touch with us,” he added.

The row over Durga Pujas turned violent on Tuesday when a meeting of another Puja committee in south Kolkata attended by Basu along with other BJP leaders and workers was interrupted by the TMC activists. Some people got injured when the two sides came to blows. BJP sources indicated that TMC has regained control of that Durga Puja committee.

The BJP leaders are now refusing to disclose the names of the Durga Puja committees they are in touch with, fearing that TMC will win over them.

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