File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( WION Web Team )
TMC is attempting to overhaul its image of being a party which indulges in minority appeasement and opportunistic politics.
Didi has apparently learned from her mistakes in the recent past. The TMC supremo is eager to prove that she doesn't differentiate between Hindu and Muslims, Bengalis and Non-Bengalis.
TMC swept the West Bengal Panchayat elections in May and the BJP emerged as the main challenger to the party. The CPI-M was at the third position, while the Congress was literally wiped out.
On the one hand, BJP's performance worked as a morale booster for the Saffron party, and a wake-up call for the TMC on the other. Panchayat election was the last significant electoral event before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and BJP has emerged as a strong player.
Mamata, accused of dividing people of the state on the religious lines to secure its vote bank, is trying to balance it out to avoid the backlash of the Hindu community.
Last year, Banerjee drew massive criticism for her decision to impose restrictions on idol immersion during Durga Puja as it collided with Muharram. The Kolkata high court too slammed the state government for creating a divide between the two communities. “Let them (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them," the court had observed.
To cover up the lapses, the chief minister, this year, announced a grant of Rs 28 Crore to 28,000 Puja committees across the state. This is not all. She also penned a theme song for a popular Durga Puja in the city.
The state government then also urged the Muslim community to avoid displaying weapons in processions during Muharram as this could hurt members of other communities.
To widen the use of social media in the run up for 2019 elections, Didi, last month, announced that her party will form a team of 30,000 'cyber sainiks' to counter BJP IT cell for their alleged vindictive politics.
Mamata said the warriors, without using any foul language, will take on the IT cell members of the BJP for their malicious attempts to defame TMC. According to reports, the warriors will respond to the BJP not just in Bengali but in Hindi as well.
BJP too is all set for the cyber war. Party chief Amit Shah and IT Cell head Amit Malviya met the IT cell members in Kolkata recently and reportedly asked them to take government's plans and policies to masses through social media.
TMC Hindi Wing
TMC has announced opening a Hindi wing in the party for a broader reach. Mamata also announced her desire to open a Hindu University in the state. This is again an effort by TMC to revamp its image and win the confidence of BJP's non-Bengali support base in the state.
Mamata Banerjee has been urging opposition parties to set aside their differences and come together to take on the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Leading the pack to unite the opposition, Mamata has announced a massive anti-BJP rally to be held in Kolkata in January, 2019.
She has also met leaders of regional and opposition parties as her efforts to stitch an anti-BJP alliance. Several top opposition leaders, like Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, have already confirmed their presence.
TMC has also planned to invite BSP Supremo Mayawati, Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
With all the above strategies, TMC is attempting to overhaul its image of being a party which indulges in minority appeasement and opportunistic politics.
To counter TMC's strategies, BJP has appointed Mukul Roy as the convener of the party's election management committee in West Bengal. Roy, who had quit the TMC to join BJP, is familiar with Mamata Banerjee's style of working.
Beginning December, the Saffron party will take out three Rath Yatras covering all the 42 parliamentary constituencies of the state. Through these Rath Yatras, the party also plans to reach out to the general people to garner support for Assam’s National Register of Citizens.
BJP is likely to score brownie points over TMC on NRC issue after Banerjee faced flak over her U-turn. Mamata, in 2005, had favoured NRC in West Bengal, claiming that the illegal immigrants in Bangladesh had spelt disaster for West Bengal.
However, this year she opposed the Assam’s National Register of Citizens.
West Bengal is crucial for the BJP for its growth in the Lok Sabha elections and the party is targetting at least 22 seats in the state. Meanwhile, TMC, confident of triggering a revolution by uniting the opposition to defeat the BJP in 2019, is putting its best efforts to maintain its stronghold in the state.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)