West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee faced double blow when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) not only returned to power with a thumping majority in Lok Sabha elections, but also made inroads in the state by winning 18 seats out of 42 Lok Sabha seats.
This holds significance here because the BJP had won just two seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
She ran from pillar to post to unite all like-minded parties against the BJP. Mamata had declared that TMC will lead in throwing out the NDA government from power and forming the new government at the Centre, and thus, BJP's spectacular performance was a huge setback to didi.
This is when poll strategist Prashant Kishor came to her rescue for her image makeover and to prepare the battlefield for 2021 Assembly elections.
Banerjee's recent campaign - 'Didi Ke Bolo' (Talk to didi) attracted over 10 lakh responses in 30 days. The campaign was launched for the aggrieved people to reach out to the state government with their grievances.
Another campaign was launched by the TMC to connect with the masses - 'Grame Chalo' wherein the party functionaries visit homes in villages to speak to common people.
The party also came out with a Twitter page - "Aamar Gorbo Mamata' (Mamata My Pride) where netizens were asked to share why they are proud of Mamata Banerjee and post appreciation for development work done by her government.
The campaigns have been devised by Prashant Kishor to help Mamata regain her grassroots connect in West Bengal and let people know that their chief minister is accessible and approachable.
TMC also wants to overhaul its image of being a party which indulges in minority appeasement. Mamata, accused of dividing people of the state on the religious lines to secure its vote bank, is trying to balance it out after the Lok Sabha election results.
Earlier, Prashant Kishor helped Narendra Modi become Gujarat chief minister for the third time in 2012. Following which, he was roped in by the BJP for 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
His campaigns for Nitish Kumar in 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, Amarinder Singh in 2017 Punjab Assembly elections and Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019 generated positive results.
With the increased use of social media and a strategy to build a direct connect with the electorate, Mamata intends to prepare a firm ground to take on the BJP in 2021 Assembly elections.
An image makeover is need of the hour for Mamata Banerjee, who must appear more temperate and gentler to counter organised and ideology-driven BJP.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)