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Bengal parties’ zeal for Puja politics goes on

Don’t be surprised to see chief minister Mamata Banerjee entering Durga Puja pandals with a traditional Bengali ‘dhak’ slung on her shoulders and her power minister Aroop Biswas playing the ‘Kansar Ghanta’. On a marathon-puja inauguration spree, the CM and other political parties are not losing any opportunity to ride on the festive wave to reach out to their voters and even people from other communities.

While Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who is criticised for doling out grants to puja clubs across the state, inaugurated innumerable durga pujas in Kolkata and the districts (both physically and virtually), BJP has organised its own durga puja in Kolkata. BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar, national vice-president Dilip Ghosh and leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari are also on an inauguration spree.

Starting from Mahalaya, Banerjee visited all the leading Kolkata pandals and inaugurated the durga pujas, as she has done every year. The total number of pujas she has inaugurated (physical and virtual) crossed at least 400.

Banerjee’s pandal hopping has drawn the ire of the opposition parties as they have criticised Banerjee for doling out grants of ₹60,000 each to 43,000 puja committees but skipping the dearness allowance to government employees. “Banerjee can pay ₹60,000, spending crores, to the puja clubs but cannot pay DA to the state government employees,” said a CPM leader.

There were some initial hiccups as Banerjee was criticised of inaugurating some pujas during the inauspicious ‘pitru paksha’. Though Trinamool claimed she had just inaugurated a few pandals, Banerjee took up the fresh inauguration spree after Mahalaya. Even as the corruption cloud looms large, Banerjee kicked off the puja festivity season much earlier, with a ‘thanksgiving’ procession to UNESCO, which has awarded Bengal’s Durga Puja an intangible heritage tag on September 1.

Banerjee’s “festival outreach” extended to other communities as well. She even went to a ‘Dandiya’ organised by the Gujarati community in Kolkata during Navratri. She was seen trying her using the Dandiya sticks on Wednesday at a pandal in Chakraberia. She was even seen singing the Chandi Shloka at a pandal in Sreebhumi in Kolkata’s Lake Town and blew the trumpet at another function.

A music album has been released in which she sings a Durga Puja song, written and composed by her. Banerjee on Wednesday inaugurated pujas in Bhabanipur area under her constituency. The troubled Trinamool Congress leadership, amid arrests of its leaders and seizure of stacks of cash from the possession of its former minister’s close aide, is relieved to see its party chief walking the extra mile during Durga Puja to restore the people connect.

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