TMC has the edge over BJP in battle of public outreach

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal is currently witnessing a battle of public outreach between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP.  With the 2021 Assembly elections in mind, both sides have fielded their most heavyweight leaders for the campaign.

While the TMC’s ‘Speak to Didi’ initiative, the brainchild of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, depends on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BJP’s ‘Speak to Dada’ (elder brother) centers around state president Dilip Ghosh.

Now, there are marked differences between the two initiatives when it comes to the political stature and experience of the two leaders, along with the scale, reach and medium of outreach.

The TMC supremo has decades of experience as a firebrand Opposition leader, in Bengal and despite the setback for TMC in the Lok Sabha elections, her personal appeal and support base, especially in the rural areas of the state, has mostly remained intact.

However, the BJP state president, with the experience of contesting just two elections (Assembly elections in 2016 and Lok Sabha elections in 2019) is a political greenhorn compared to Mamata.

Not one to mince words, Ghosh has often put the BJP in a spot with his offhand remarks.

On the other hand, although Mamata has had her fair share of controversies, she has successfully transformed herself from a firebrand leader to a shrewd politician.

The TMC also has an advantage when it comes to its reach in the state. Not only has the party opened a helpline manned by several persons, but it has also opened a dedicated website where people can register their complaints. The chief minister has also instructed TMC leaders, including MLAs and MPs, to regularly visit their constituencies and interact with the locals.

The state BJP, lacking any other leader of stature, is solely banking on Ghosh for the ‘Speak to Dada’ program. Instead of its tested strategy of a social media blitz, it has turned the outreach program into a direct interaction between Ghosh and the people, which is likely to shrink its scope.

However, it is not all smooth sailing for the TMC, as some leaders faced the brunt of public discontent during the ‘Speak to Didi’ program.

What remains to be seen is whether the BJP can capitalise on this discontent to corner TMC in the upcoming Assembly polls or if Mamata will shrug off the upset in the Lok Sabha elections to turn the tables on the saffron party.

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