TMC’s Speak to Didi initiative seems to have backfired

Mamata Banerjee launched the 'Speak with Didi' website in July (PTI File Photo)

It was supposed to be the public outreach masterstroke for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee but after its initial success, it has become an embarrassment for her party. Within weeks after its launch, the Speak to Didi initiative has sprung a nasty surprise for the Trinamool Congress (TMC), as a significant portion of the complaints are against local TMC leaders.

According to TMC sources, the initiative launched by the Chief Minister, following by poll strategist Prashant Kishor's suggestion, has uncovered severe discontent against district and local TMC leaders, mainly due to alleged corrupt practices. What is even worse is that a significant portion of the complaints are about alleged demands for a bribe by these leaders, an issue which Banerjee tried to address when she asked local party leaders to return cut money (bribe to access government schemes).

“Much like the call to return cut money, the Speak to Didi initiative has backfired to a great extent. We wanted to resolve people’s problems through the outreach program but it turns out that a significant portion of the problems are caused by some of our party leaders,” a senior TMC leader said.

TMC sources say that the large-scale discontent against key district leaders is more worrying for the party leadership, particularly with Assembly elections due in 2021. 

The development also comes at a time when the state BJP has decided to launch “Dada Ke bolun" [Speak to Dada (elder brother], where people can approach BJP state president Dilip Ghosh with their grievances. However, unlike the TMC’s initiative, where people can register their complaints over phone and a website, Ghosh will interact with people in several areas of the state at regular intervals.

The party is keen on finalising the schedule by this month.

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