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Reduce Dependency On Modi-Shah-Nadda, Says Central Leadership To BJP Bengal’s Unit

With the recent electoral defeat in Karnataka, central BJP leadership has made it categorical to the Bengal unit to reduce its dependency on Delhi. Bengal BJP insiders say that the Central leadership has given a clear directive that the state unit cannot seek high command’s opinion on all the issues pertaining to the state. Most importantly, central leadership has stated not to focus completely on PM Narendra Modi, but to give equal importance to the party’s local leaders in regard to the campaign for the upcoming Panchayat poll and next year’s Lok Sabha elections. According to the report of the Central Observers over-reliance on Modi-Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP National President J P Nadda in the election campaign is not making the organisation self-sustaining. Moreover, a large part of the state leadership thinks that Modi magic will work during last minute-campaigning. This over dependence on Modi is the cause of local leaders not being proactive and in the process becoming irrelevant. According to BJP sources, Amit Shah and JP Nadda will visit Bengal and other states regularly to directly investigate the ‘Lok Sabha Pravas Programme’. But the main work has to be done by the state leadership. One of the vice-presidents of the state BJP and MP Jagannath Sarkar said that local leaders are now being given importance since some decisions that are imposed from above, lead to mistakes.
Abhishek Didi

Didi Attacks BJP Over CBI Summons To Nephew Abhishek

Trinamool Congress is faced with one too many negative news — reports of rampant corruption, increasing infighting within the party and CBI summoning Abhishek Banerjee. Soon after the Calcutta High Court dismissed TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s plea to stay CBI/ED interrogation in connection with teachers’ recruitment scam, CBI summoned him to appear before them at Kolkata office. As a result, Abhishek had to hit the pause button on his 60-day state-wide yatra, Trinamoole Nabo Jowar and return to Kolkata. An angry Didi said BJP was jittery seeing Abhishek’s outreach programme was successful. She warned stating that if Abhishek is stopped from undertaking this programme then she herself will take the yatra forward. Abhishek too challenged CBI to make two stages and publicly question him in a janata durbar and if proven guilty send to gallows and set an example. However, political analysts have two views on this development. One, Didi will now turn the heat on the BJP stating that the CBI probe on Abhishek is a vindictive act to stop them from showcasing the true colours of PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Second, the BJP will go all guns out stating the rural masses who are very angry over the suspension of work on many central-funded schemes due to non-disbursal of funds from the Union Government that Abhishek’s yatra is a hogwash to hide first-hand the loot of central funds meant for these projects by Trinamool leaders and functionaries.

Post Karnataka Victory Has Didi Softened Her Stance Towards The Congress?

Two days after Congress won Karnataka Election, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee has actually given an overt signal of having the Congress in the Opposition fold to take on the BJP in 2024 General Election. Didi reiterated her stand that states with strong regional presence must take the lead and at 200-odd seats across the country where Congress has a strong presence they must be supported by other parties. However, her softened stance also came with the rider that “Congress must sacrifice at some places also” – clearly hinting the Congress High Command to ask Bengal Congress to go soft on TMC in the state. Incidentally, TMC and Congress are at loggerheads, despite Mamata being known to have good relations with Sonia Gandhi. According to party insiders, Didi’s earlier reluctance of supporting Congress stemmed from the alliance between the Congress and CPM from time to time in Bengal and also from Congress’ back-to-back poll setbacks. Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury pointed out Didi never attributed Karnataka’s victory to Rahul Gandhi or during Bharat Jodo Yatra even though Didi’s ascent to power in 2011 was with the help of Sonia Gandhi when the party went into an alliance to oust Left Front. Political observers also pointed out, understanding between Didi and State Congress will remain distant as TMC will never sacrifice a single of 42 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress or for any other parties.

Trinamool’s New Outreach Programme Brings To Fore Factionalism, Infighting Within The Party

Trinamool Congress’ new outreach programme  Trinamool Nabo Jowar has put into question the unity of party leaders. Opening the pandora’s box of factionalism, the programme undertaken by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and second in command Abhishek Banerjee has failed to contain factionalism in the secret ballot to select candidates for the upcoming three-tier rural polls.   So there is chaos in district after district — torn ballot papers, broken ballot boxes, printed votes, tampering of voter lists, vandalism, fights among party members. The campaign began on April 25 and entered into the 18th day across eight districts — from Cooch Behar to Birbhum. Opposition parties are attacking the ruling party stating that it can no longer imagine that a non-violent, orderly vote is possible. The widespread violence of the Panchayat elections 2018 in Bengal is still in the minds of people. Questions are being raised over the deployment of police for the ruling party’s activities. Most importantly, voices of dissent could be heard among the common people where they claimed that factions directed them to cast votes in favour of the candidate that a local leader supported. Political observers pointed out that the exercise is turning out to gauge the dissent among the people for the party ahead of the polls since free expression of public opinion and democracy could be sought any time of the year.
The kerala story

West Bengal Filmmakers Not In Favour Of Bans, Suggest Counter-Narrative Via Art

Bengal filmmakers feel West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to ban “The Kerala Story” will not serve the purpose of restricting controversial narratives. A day after Didi declared Sudipto Sen’s movie “distorted”, eminent filmmakers close to Didi said that the decision has jeopardised her pro-culture and art image. National Award-winning filmmaker Gautam Ghose said that during the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA, the erstwhile censor board comprising stalwarts like Shyam Bengal, Kamal Haasan suggested keeping an option where the state authorities could take legal action against the makers of any film hurting religious sentiments leading to law and order problems. Unfortunately, the suggestions never saw the light of the day, lamented Ghosh. Another filmmaker Aniket Chattopadhyay observed that the decision of banning a movie in the digital era is basically futile since a government cannot hold back the release as it has been cleared by the censor board. So what is the way out – “Make a counter-narrative”, suggested Chattopadhyay. Leftist filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay compared banning a film to burning books. According to him, there have been occasions of differences with the erstwhile Left Front government over his movie like “Herbert” but there are no instances of banning movies in the state.

TMC Supremo Puts Nephew On Acid Test Through Jana Sanjog Yatra

The much hyped new campaign of the ruling Trinamool Congress Trinamoole Nabo Jowar had raised several eyebrows in terms of expenditure, party’s slipping hold at panchayat level and increase in rebel leaders. In April, the party Supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that her nephew and second in command of the party Abhishek Banerjee will start this new campaign where he would be undertaking Jana Sanjog Yatra comprising 250 public rallies.  Abhishek’s 60-day outreach programme started on April 25 from Alipurduar and it will culminate in Kakdwip of South 24 Parganas on June 24. It is learnt that over 292 luxurious tents costing Rs 25,000 per tent/night were set up in Alipurduar-Coochbehar for party functionaries. Besides this a luxury caravan has been brought in for Abhishek’s stay. Significantly, the exercise of secret ballot to determine the preferred candidate for the upcoming panchayat elections was marred by clashes between two factions of party that broke out in Alipurduar and Cooch Behar. Not only this, the party’s sitting MLA from Islampur in Uttar Dinajpur district, Abdul Karim Choudhury threatened that he will send the names of probable candidates for the upcoming rural polls. Meanwhile, several senior party leaders view that Didi has put Abhishek on an acid test to translate this new campaign into a success by ensuring a win in the upcoming three-tier rural polls and also prove his acceptability.

What Ails The Bengal Film Industry?

The Bengal film industry which saw the likes of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Tarun Majumder and others, today struggles to hold on to its glory. There is a marked shift from big screen content to OTT platforms — Hoichoi, Zee5, Klick, Addatimes. Moreover, several renowned actors are also seen in Bollywood movies and regional movies of South.  All top stars and directors like Prosenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury feel that the Bengali film industry requires the much-needed investment and passionate people to surge ahead. Films Manobjamin, Projapoti, Kaberi Antardhan, Maayakumari, Dilkhush, Ghore Pherar Gaan, Mitthye Premer Gaan and others released in the first quarter of 2023. While Projapoti could turn box office collections into gold, others failed as they were replaced by Pathaan at the theatres. Interestingly, actors like Jisshu Sengupta, Anirban Bhattachajee, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Saswata Chatterjee, Churni Ganguly, Swastika Mukherjee, Parambrata and recently veteran actor Prosenjit are taking up projects from Bollywood and those from the South. Mardaani, Manikarnika, Sadak 2 famed actor Jisshu pointed out that the emergence of OTT platforms have blurred the lines between regional industries. For Parambrata, directing Bengali movies is passion and acting in Bollywood contents such as Bulbull, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, Aranyak, Mithya gave him national exposure.
Mamata banerjee

TMC Loses National Party Status, But Didi Still Nurses National Ambition

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Tejaswi Prasad at the State Secretariat, make it evident that Didi has not put her national ambitions on the back burner. Her single point agenda is to dislodge BJP from the Centre. Will it be possible given the fact, her party Trinamool Congress (TMC) lost national party status? In fact, many from her party feel that Didi should continue to work towards holding its own citadel in the state. A senior TMC leader on condition of anonymity questioned the party’s decision to contest Tripura Assembly Election in 2023 and Goa Assembly election in 2022. He questioned the futile exercise of spending crores of rupees in these two states without any political gain and instead it has led to the loss of National party status. Sources say Didi was not keen on contesting elections in Goa and Tripura but it was party’s general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee’s idea. Also, some TMC leaders feel the party’s image has taken a hit with the induction of former Union minister Yashwant Sinha and former BJP member Shatrughan Sinha. Though the actor won the Asansol Lok Sabha seat, he is still considered as an outsider by the district leadership. Yashwant Sinha quit the party in 2022. The general consensus is that Didi should focus on the party’s image as some of its leaders have been jailed.
Mamata abhishek

Is New TMC Campaign A Signal That Didi Is Passing The Baton To Abhishek Banerjee?

Is Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee planning to hand over the reins to her nephew Abhishek Banerjee? All indications point in that directions. Witness this, Abhishek, the party’s second-in-command and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee has unveiled a new campaign “Trinamooler Nabojowar” (Uprise of New Trinamool). Spanning over two months, the campaign has two parts — first a Jono Sanjog Yatra (mass outreach march) where he will be addressing over 250 public meetings, and the second being Gram Banglar Motamot (opinion of rural Bengal). Interestingly, Abhishek will hold meetings with 3,000 party functionaries of the district, panchayat and booth levels and also with the people of local influence in the view of selecting 73000 candidates for the three-tier panchayat election through a secret ballot. Political analysts say that with Didi announcing the outreach drive it clearly hints at projecting her nephew as a mass leader ahead of the panchayat and the national polls next year. Moreover, analysts are also equating the new programme with that of Didi ke Bolo (Tell to Didi) campaign, designed by erstwhile political consultant Prasant Kishore, which resulted in thumping mandate during State Assembly election 2021. The march begins from North Bengal where TMC is still struggling for a strong foothold.
Ram Navmi Violence

Post Ram Navami Violence, Amit Shah To Visit Bengal To Boost Morale Of The Party Workers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be visiting West Bengal on April 14. Shah’s visit is timed when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has blamed the state BJP for orchestrating violence during Ram Navami in the districts of Howrah and Hooghly. Shah, who will be on a two-day tour to Bengal, will hold a rally on April 14 at Trinamool Congress (TMC) bastion — Suri in Birbhum. Incidentally, TMC strongman of Birbhum and Mamata’s close aide, Anubrata Mondal was arrested almost a year back in cattle smuggling case making the district an open ground for the BJP. Besides, this visit is also going to be a part of the saffron camp’s focus on 24 Lok Sabha constituencies out of 42 in which the BJP could not win in the 2019 General Elections. It may be recalled that Birbhum has two out of 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, Bolpur and Birbhum and in the last parliamentary election the ruling TMC had defeated the BJP by a high margin. Sources said Shah has already received reports that the state unit has failed to direct the district units to consolidate the party’s position in places of South Bengal where TMC is facing anti-incumbency. Apart from Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda will also visit 12 such constituencies to boost the morale of the party workers.

Was Didi’s Dharna Aimed At Projecting Herself As The Key Entity Of The Regional Party Front?

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee holding a 30-hour dharna in Bengal’s capital, Kolkata, sent out a clear message that she will not leave any stone unturned to keep her stake in Regional Party Front intact. In fact, training her guns against the BJP over non-disbursal of funds by the Centre, Didi called for “Ekbar Aur Dilli Chalo” programme aimed at uniting the Opposition parties ahead of General Elections in 2024. Since the conviction and disqualification of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, Didi was prompt in supporting him contrary to her previous stance of calling Rahul as BJP’s TRP. She had also sent two TMC MPs to the recent Congress meeting called by its party’s president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi. Significantly, Mamata met three non-BJP, non-Congress leaders earlier including her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy. TMC is also talking to ex-NDA partners like Akali Dal. Meanwhile, Didi’s nephew and second in command of the party, Abhishek Banerjee has also hinted that the party is mulling the idea of filing defamation cases against BJP leaders including Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and PM Narendra Modi for catcalling “Didi, o Didi” during Bengal Assembly polls campaign in 2021.


Didi Moots Regional Party Front Sans Cong To Fight BJP In 2024

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken the lead to create a new Regional Party front sans Congress to give a tough fight to BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Taking a cue from her previous slogan of “Khela Hobe” (There Will Be A Game), Didi has sounded 2024 poll bugle with her new slogan “Abar khela hobey (We Will Play Again). Recently, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav came calling to Kolkata and has expressed his party’s whole-hearted support to whatever Didi does for a BJP-mukt India. Taking the regional pact a step forward, Mamata visited Odisha to meet her counterpart Naveen Patnaik. She will host former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy at her residence.  It is learnt that the TMC supremo will be staging a sit-in dharna near Ambedkar Murti in Kolkata from March 29 till the night of March 30. This is against the pending dues of the state and excesses by the central agencies. According to political observers, instead of calling for a Third Front, Mamata has floated the idea of Regional Front as there are around 200-250 Lok Sabha seats where powerful regional parties are in direct contest with the BJP. TMC insiders say that Mamata is critical about Congress stating that “PM Modi cannot be dislodged if Rahul remains the leader of the Opposition because Rahul is Modi’s biggest TRP and the saffron camp uses the Congress scion for their own good”.
Mamata Tmc Meet

Bypoll Jolt Sees Didi Rejig TMC’s Minority Cell, And Fall Back On Old Guards

The Sagardighi bypoll results which went in Congress favour seems to have jolted the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. To keep anti-incumbency at bay during the General Elections in 2024, Didi quickly called for a meeting of senior party leaders and categorically told them that TMC lost Sagardighi seat not because of minority vote bank shift but because of the party’s “internal weakness”.  To keep the minority vote bank intact, Mamata has rejigged the party’s minority cell by appointing youth leader and MLA Mosaraf Hossain as the new president. The incumbent president MLA Haji Nurul Islam has been elevated as chairman. It may be recalled that Didi had formed a five-member committee headed by Bengali-speaking muslim leader and ex-president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind within the TMC and a legislator Siddiqullah Chowdhury to prepare a report on the bypoll loss. Now, Chowdhury has been given the responsibility of three minority-dominated districts — Malda, Murshidabad and South Dinajpur. Interestingly, Didi’s close aide and state cabinet minister Firhad Hakim, who is an Urdu-speaking muslim, seems to have been sidelined by taking away his responsibility for the districts of Murshidabad, Howrah and Hooghly. For the panchayat election TMC has aligned with Jamiat, a grassroot organization. Many senior leaders and state cabinet ministers have been given additional responsibilities thus bringing back Mamata’s old guard rule replacing her nephew and second in command of the party Abhishek’s youth policy.

Will The Teacher Recruitment Scam Pull Trinamool Down In Panchayat Poll?

With the Enforcement Directorate telling the Calcutta High Court that the volume of the school recruitment scam in West Bengal may reach up to Rs 350 crore, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has gone all guns out to find out those from the Opposition involved in the scam. Several TMC leaders including former second-in-command of the party Partha Chatterjee have been arrested in connection with the scam. TMC for the first time expelled two youth leaders who had been arrested by ED for their involvement in the scam. Earlier, it had suspended senior leader Partha Chatterjee and legislator Manik Bhattacharya, but did not expel them from the party.  TMC has alleged that Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari was directly involved and demanded his custodial investigation in the case. Recently, the court dismissed the appointment of over 800 candidates out of which 55 people were recommended by Adhikari, claimed TMC. The series of dismissals from the job of candidates have left Didi worried since the Panchayat Election is knocking at the door. She has even made a fervent appeal to the court to punish ‘culprits’ in the recruitment scam but reinstated “legally” those who are losing their jobs. Political observers believe in the light of the recruitment scam TMC may lose a few districts in the Panchayat Poll to be held in May. If that happens it will give an impetus to BJP in West Bengal.
cpm cong

Will Bengal CPM And Congress Make Their Alliance Official For Lok Sabha 2024 Elections?

The Congress candidate winning the Sagardighi Assembly seat in West Bengal in alliance with CPM has put both the parties in a dilemma. The arch rivals are now thinking hard whether to forge an alliance officially in the run-up to the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. Interestingly, Berhampore MP and President of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has categorically stated that his party is keen to fight future elections in the state in an alliance with the Left to take on the Trinamool Congress and BJP. Moreover, with this result, Congress gets one representation at the Assembly. Chowdhury, who happens to be close to the Gandhi family, has made it clear that lower-level party cadres are keen on this alliance contrary to some top Left leaders thinking otherwise. The senior Congress leader said that he had requested CPM Politburo member Biman Bose and State Secretary Md Salim not to field any candidate for this seat. However, previous attempts at similar alliances backfired during State Assembly Elections in 2016 and 2021 and both were unable to even win a single seat. Insiders said that Chowdhury had expressed his concern to Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi to speak against TMC. Gandhi’s statement against TMC in Meghalaya campaign results from that request. Incidentally, both Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi enjoy an excellent relationship with Mamata Banerjee.

Is BJP Trying To Push TMC To Divide West Bengal On Ethnic Lines?

On February 20 this year, the West Bengal State Assembly passed the resolution against the attempts to divide Bengal by voice vote. This move clearly indicates that the ruling Trinamool Congress government has found itself trapped in the mire of separate statehood demands by the Tribals of North Bengal and citizenship status for the Hindu refugees of South Bengal. At a time when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is countering BJP’s move of implementing Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Bengal, she is also hounded by the demands of separate statehoods out of North Bengal such as Greater Cooch Behar for Rajbanshis and Gorkhaland for the Gorkhas. While, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung constituted Bharatiya Gorkhaland Sangharsha Samiti committee to lead their demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, Rajbanshis leader Ananta Maharaj, head of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association, has also demanded a separate state of Cooch Behar. Interestingly, Matuas, lower caste Hindu refugees living in districts of North and South 24 Parganas and Nadia are hopeful about their citizenship through the implementation of CAA. Moreover, State BJP leadership had assured the Matua community that the Centre is committed to implementing the CAA and also luring the Rajbanshis and Koch, with the assurance of converting North Bengal into a Union Territory.
Guv & Mamata (1)

Are West Bengal BJP Leaders Up In Arms Against The State Governor?

Ever since CV Ananda Bose took charge as West Bengal Governor in November 2022 he has been all praises for chief minister Mamata Banerjee and shares cordial ties with her unlike his predecessor and now Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar. But this has not gone well with BJP Bengal leaders. It was visible in a series of events.  First, during ‘Hatey Khori’ (first writing), a ceremony observed during the Saraswati Puja in the presence of Didi BJP leaders gave the event a miss. More. Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari tweeted, “Doesn’t glorify the dignity of Raj Bhavan”. In another instance, when Bose praised and compared the CM to erudites and Presidents of India Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, APJ Abdul Kalam at a function where she received an honorary Doctor of Literature from Kolkata’s St Xavier’s University. Again, Adhikari reacted saying that the Governor’s speech resembled a rehearsal for the customary speech to be read out at the beginning of the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly. Surprisingly, despite the governor being appointed by the Centre, the state BJP leaders staged a walkout on February 8, during the Governor’s maiden address in the State Assembly, raising slogans and tearing papers as they protested against “corruption” by the ruling TMC. Why?
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Clockwise : Manik Sarkar, Amit Shah, Mamata Banerjee & Pradyot Bikram, Manikya Debbarma

Can BJP Keep CPM At Bay And Retain Power In Tripura?

Leaders across parties – BJP, TMC, CPM, TIPRA — have converged at Tripura as it goes to poll on February 16. This North-Eastern state has come to prominence since its last election in 2018, after BJP ousted the 25-year old Communist regime. While BJP is desperate to hold on to the state, the CPM, keen to be back in the driver’s seat, has entered into an alliance with the Congress and Trinamool Congress. And the new entrant is the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha, a regional party floated by former royalty Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, after leaving the Congress. Interestingly he is going solo. Up for grabs is 60 seats. BJP is aware of its shortcomings as it failed to live up to voter’s expectations that accompanied its swift rise in 2018 winning 35 seats. So it did mid-course correction by replacing chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb with Manik Saha. With nine states slated to go to polls before the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to win all the states. Towards this, its senior leaders like the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have trooped into Tripura and kicked off their election campaign. Likewise, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in tow with her nephew Abhishek Banerjee had camped for two days. The result of this four- cornered fight will be known on March 2.

Green Signal: West Bengal BJP Leaders Woo Muslim Voters With An Eye 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending out a clear message on the need of wooing the minorities, a new buzz in Bengal BJP is reaching out to the muslims since the community comprises nearly 30% of total voters and BJP must reach out to them to garner votes ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha election. Out of 294 Assembly seats in Bengal, 125 are muslim-dominated and Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 90  of those seats in the 2021 Assembly poll taking her party tally to 213. However, incidents like Leftist student leader Anis Khan’s death and the arrest of Indian Secular Front MLA, Naushad Siddique, the scion of Furfura Sharif in South 24 Parganas, one of the muslim dominated districts have raised questions against TMC. Interestingly, besides Congress and CPI(M), BJP too led movements against the arrest of the minority MLA.  Minority Cell chairman Charle’s Nandi has recently stated that muslims in Didi’s tenure are the “most poor and backward”. Sources in the saffron camp said that a two-wheeler rally will be taken out in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies which are majorly dominated by Pasmanda muslims to sharpen its outreach among this socially backward muslims. Moreover, the state BJP which has a minority morcha cell, in the 41 of the 42 Parliamentary constituencies, held a residential training camp for its minority leaders and workers at Berhampore in the muslim-dominated Murshidabad district. Will all these efforts yield dividends? That’s the moot point.
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‘Pathaan’ Helps Reopen Single-Screen Theatres In Kolkata, Bengali Movies Lose Out

Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan gave a big push for the reopening of closed single-screen theatres in Kolkata. At least nine such halls including Bijoli, Prachi and Orient were reopened after they closed down due to stiff competition from multiplexes. However, Bengali films, including Dev and Mithun Chakraborty’s ‘Projapoti’, and superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee’s ‘Kaberi Antardhan’, celebrated actress Rituparna Sengupta’s ‘Maayakumari’ which were running at the box-office had been unceremoniously brought down owing to Pathaan release. Single Theatre Distributors’ law which clearly states that the single theatre owners will have to screen all four shows if the film has to be played on a single screen. While a section of the single-theatre owners chose Pathaan over the Bengal movies, another section chose to stand by the regional films. Owner of iconic single theatre Priya Cinema, Arijit Dutta said that his decision was purely from a business point of view where Pathaan pre-release booking surpassed the box-office collection of Bengali movies. Generally, one show used to be allocated to Bengali movies in case of big banner Hindi films but now there are no shows. Superstar Dev cautioned that it will soon become a “black Friday or black Wednesday for Tollywood” on the release date of a big Hindi film. On the contrary, owner of renowned single-theatre Navina, Navin Choukhani continued with Dev’s Projapati instead of Pathaan, saying that it had been his conscious decision to stand by Tollywood.
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MLA and State cabinet minister Sovandeb Chatterjee being confronted by the locals

Trinamool’s Mass Contact Drive Sees Senior Party Leaders Facing Villagers' Protests

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s emissaries, Didir Doot bear the brunt of misgovernance and corruption during Anchake Anchale module under the party’s massive outreach programme — Didir Suraksha Kawach ahead of Panchayat polls. Under this Anchake Anchale programme 350 state and district-level TMC leaders will be visiting the villages with 15 flagship schemes of the government. The programme which kicked off on January 11 with party MPs and MLAs, state cabinet ministers and prominent leaders spending a day at a gram panchayat were marked by protests from the locals. Party’s state general-secretary Kunal Ghosh faced severe protests in East Midnapore, a stronghold of Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. Besides Ghosh, state cabinet minister Jyotipriya Mallick, MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Saugata Roy and Satabdi Roy, senior leader and MLA Tapas Roy, youth wing leaders Debangshu Bhattacharya, Sayantika Banerjee also faced protests. Both Tapas Roy and Saugata Roy received complaints against TMC panchayat pradhans of corruption on the other hand Bhattacharya and Banerjee were stopped from entering a village as no action was taken after villagers had complained of bad roads, lack of supply of drinking water, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna and others. Interestingly, one of the MLAs Biswajit Das was confronted by the agitators for switching camps to BJP during the 2021 election and returning to TMC.  Is this move by Didi an attempt to purge the party, amid reports, corruption and scams ahead of 2024 general elections?
Collage Maker-18-Jan-2023-02

Is CPM Taking A Leaf Out Of RSS Playbook To Revive The Party In West Bengal?

CPI(M) sees itself as the sole political unit that can combat RSS and BJP ideologically. As the Bengal CPI(M)observes 57th anniversary of its mouthpiece Ganashakti, it has initiated its maiden ‘digitally’ subscription programme for its supporters and sympathisers to donate to the party. Veteran Left leader and Politburo member Prakash Karat on this occasion said that the Left must put forth democratic, secular and Left ideology and vision among people so as to change the political scenario of the country. He further observed that RSS has the unique feature of functioning within the society through its various outfits, socially, culturally, and educationally and Left parties must counter this through their ideology and vision to uphold a democratic and secular environment. Taking a dig at the BJP, the former CPI(M) general secretary said that the minorities in India are being marginalised in the name of nationalism and the country is being run by an extreme right (wing) government. It may be noted that the Left is in power in only Kerala at present, having lost Tripura to the BJP in 2018 and West Bengal to the Trinamool Congress in 2011. The CPI(M) Bengal has released a short video where veteran party leader and Left Front chairman Biman Bose explains the need for going digital.
Didi campaign

Didi Combats BJP’s Expose With ‘Didir Suraksha Kawach’ Outreach Campaign

Keeping a hawk’s eye on upcoming panchayat polls, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has launched her maiden extensive digital campaign – ‘Didir Suraksha Kavach’ through Didir Doot’ (party cadres). The public outreach comes at a time when Didi’s party and government are battling scams including the recent protests at the panchayat level over irregularities in the allocation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, teachers’ recruitment. During the launch of the programme Didi said that this will be a medium where 3.5 lakh party leaders would reach every block and cover 2 crore families in 60 days, with workers staying in villages to understand the problems faced by locals. They will be also promoting 15 welfare schemes, covering various sectors such as food, housing, health, education, social security, income and employment through the newly developed app under the same name. Most importantly, post Lok Sabha Polls 2019 debacle where Didi lost several of LS seats to BJP, the saffron party launched an initiative called ‘Didi ke Balo’ which primarily opened the pandora’s box of the issues such as “cut money” and “syndicate raj”. According to party insiders, over 3343 gram panchayats are there in Bengal, but this new launch is not only eyeing the rural polls but also at the Lok Sabha Polls 2024. However, political analysts said that Didi has sent a strong message to party functionaries and leaders accused of corruption.  
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West Bengal BJP Unit Blames State’s Top Three Leaders For Factionalism & Disgruntlement

The recent meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda, Bengal Observer Sunil Bhansal, Amit Malviya and others with the Bengal BJP unit in New Delhi was nothing less than a clear revolt on the part of state leaders against the top three functionaries. Party sources said that several MPs and MLAs have directly blamed the factionalism and dictatorship of top three leaders — National Vice President Dilip Ghosh, Bengal President Sukanta Majumdar and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. They have also briefed that if the situation continues that state BJP will fail to retain the Lok Sabha seats in 2024 Lok Sabha Polls. It was reported that one of the MPs has cited that there is no coordination between the MPs and MLAs. On several occasions party leaders are openly giving statements against each other. The leaders have also informed Nadda that the state unit will not be able to put up candidates in several gram panchayats. Hence they have also suggested that it would be advisable to support those candidates who would be opposing Trinamool Congress candidates. Besides this, BJP leaders are also mulling the idea that those winning on other party symbols at panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads could be given the option of switching camps. Several MPs have also given proposals to contest rural polls as independent candidates.
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Vande Bharat Flagoff: An Angry Didi Refuses To Sit On Dais At Howrah Station Over Jai Shri Ram Chants

High drama prevailed at Howrah Station as a visibly annoyed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to come on stage from where the Vande Bharat express was being virtually flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following “Jai Shri Ram” chants by the BJP supporters present at the spot. Incidentally, both Bengal governor C V Ananda Bose and railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw requested her to join them on the stage. In a way, the controversy helped Didi not to share the stage with Suvendu Adhikari, her one-time aide. While Bengal cabinet minister Firhad Hakim and Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh termed this as misbehaviour and a purposeful act of insult to the state’s chief minister. Besides, Vande Bharat, PM also flagged off the inter-city metro service connecting the southern fringes of Kolkata. However, Mamata made it clear to PM Modi that not only Joka-Esplanade Metro services, but four out of five inaugurated projects were also her brainchild during her stint as Railway minister. Didi categorically voiced that her dream project – the Taratala to Joka Metro, which she laid the foundation stone with erstwhile President Pratibha Patil got inaugurated also. She also reminded that several project proposals during her tenure as Railway minister are now seeing the light of day. Adding to this, Bengal chief minister said that she was the one who earmarked 50 world-class stations across the country.
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Bengal Politics: No Slot For Mithun-Dev Starrer At State-Owned Nandan Theatre

State-owned Nandan movie theatre continues to be the most coveted halls for film release in Kolkata. Amid growing political heat in West Bengal due to upcoming panchayat polls, the Opposition has blamed the ruling Mamata Government for not giving permission to screen the Bengali film Prajapoti starring Dev and Mithun Chakraborty at Nandan theatre.  Though Dev is Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP, Mithun switched from TMC to BJP. Significantly, Dev is the producer of the movie which was released on December 23, along with two other Bengali films — Hatyapuri and Haami 2. And both got permission to screen at Nandan. Interestingly Dev’s official Facebook page read “Will Miss You Nandan this time. No Issue. Will meet again… End of Story.” The post had a caption saying “Only Legends can understand this.” The producers said that they were the first to submit the application for screening while TMC says that application for screening of the film came late. BJP National Vice President Dilip Ghosh took a jibe stating Dev was also forced to contest the election; he wasn’t willing to do the same and in Bengal, if one doesn’t support the TMC, the prestigious Nandan remains out of reach. But, the murmur is loud and clear, was this move of the ruling government a clear message to Ghatal MP that Mithun dada remains an opponent even in art.
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Are Elected Film Stars Just Symbolic Leaders?

Stars and singers from the Bengali film industry who have won the last Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections, across parties, have to come to terms that they are just symbolic leaders; don’t have much say as their constituencies are controlled by seasoned politicians. This seems more predominant in Trinamool Congress (TMC). Tollywood’s popular star ‘Dev’ Deepak Adhikari’s constituency is under the control of Midnapore strongman Manas Bhunia. Actress Mimi Chakraborty’s Jadavpur constituency is overseen by Didi’s close aide and cabinet minister Aroop Biswas. Nusrat Jahan’s constituency Basirhat is under several North 24 Parganas leaders taking all political decisions. Yesteryear’s noted actress Satabdi Roy, three-time MP from Birbhum, has no say. Her constituency is nursed by strongman Anubrata Mondal. Similarly, MLAs like renowned yesteryear actor Chiranjeet Chakraborty, TV star Arundhati Moitra and folk singer Aditi Munshi are voiceless with all decision making under the control of Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Rajya Sabha MP Subhashis Chakraborty and senior cabinet minister Sujit Bose respectively for the constituencies of Barasat, Sonarpur Dakshin and Rajarhat-Gopalpur. Noted singer, former BJP minister Babul Supriyo who switched to TMC camp is facing a similar predicament. Both Hooghly BJP MP Locket Chatterjee, and Asanaol South BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul, both general secretaries are not treated in the same manner. Paul gets more importance as he is part of Suvendu Adhikari’s camp, while Chatterjee feels shortchanged as she is part of Dilip Ghosh camp.
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After TMC’s Debacle In Several States, Didi Puts Her Might Behind Mission Meghalaya

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has officially endorsed the idea of making her party Trinamool Congress (TMC) as a national one with “Mission Meghalaya”. In her two day tour, accompanied by the party’s second-in-command and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Didi went out all possible ways to tackle the issue of being “outsiders” or a “Bengali party”. Interestingly, Mamata spoke about a similar set of schemes of Lakshmir Bhandar for women of Meghalaya promising to pay Rs 1000 if her party forms the government in the upcoming election in February 2023. The northeastern state is presently ruled by the National People’s Party, an ally of the BJP. Didi also offered Rs 5 lakh to the bereaved family members of the deceased in the recent Assam-Meghalaya border clash. It must be noted that TMC’s previous ventures outside Bengal in the states of Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Goa had no positive results. Moreover, Didi had always given these responsibilities to party colleagues like Mukul Roy and then to Abhishek, without putting her political capital at stake, hence the failure of these experiments never cost her.  But, this time she has made it official by lending her name to a mission outside Bengal. This could be seen as her attempts to match Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has made his Aam Aadmi Party’s presence felt beyond Delhi and emerged as a key player in the Opposition block.
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Panchayat Polls: Trinamool, BJP Lock Horns At Each Other’s Fiefdoms

With the fall of December, heavy-weight Trinamool Congress (TMC) and state BJP leaders have locked horns for the 2023 Panchayat polls. Both the parties have been indulging in organising counter rallies as a show of strength and their organisational hold of the area. Recently, the state witnessed the most high voltage rallies, where TMC’s National general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP targeted each other’s fiefdoms with their choice of rally venues. While Abhishek held a rally at Contai near the residence of Adhikari, the latter chose to address a gathering at Diamond Harbour, the constituency that the TMC national general secretary represents in Lok Sabha. However, both the leaders moved the court in order to hold the rallies and later directly challenged each other at their respective public meetings. Adhikari has been quoting multiple dates saying the present Didi’s government will not last beyond December and the state will have assembly elections along with Lok Sabha election in 2024. However, BJP sources have said that quoting dates has not gone down well with the BJP high command. Besides taking on TMC’s second in command, Adhikari held a rally at Didi’s home turf at Harzra. Interestingly, Adhikari backtracked from his claim of toppling the government in December, instead giving a fresh date of January 13.
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Politics Divide West Bengal Entertainment Industry Three Ways

There is a clear three-way divide in the West Bengal entertainment industry. While a section of the stars continue with their allegiance with the CPI (M), a majority of actors (TV and cinema) are with Trinamool Congress and some are with BJP. Significantly, the allegiance factor has hit the stars in the opposition camp real hard as no work comes their way. The change started when the West Bengal’s entertainment industry sided with the then Opposition leader Mamata Banerjee’s movement against Singur Land Acquisition and Nandigram massacre. The successful agitation saw Didi’s TMC dethroning the Left Front government and effectively, the entertainment industry changed its colour to green from red. With the entry of BJP into the state, some prominent stars embraced saffron and joined the BJP as allegations of corruption and “cut-money” plagued Didi’s party. But they had to pay a price. Noted actors like Mithun Chakraborty, Rudranil Ghosh, Rupa Ganguly, and Locket Chatterjee have been openly saying that the attitude of their industry colleagues have changed ever since they joined BJP. Rudranil claims he has been out of work for the last 18 months, while Mithun says he has been getting negative vibes. The heartthrob of Bengali films and TMC MP Dev however said, politics should never come in the way of personal ties and professional work. Dev’s latest film ‘Projapoti’ features Mithun.
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Didi’s National Ambition Sees TMC Making Serious Bid To Make Inroads In North East States

Trinamool Congress (TMC) is trying to gain a foothold in the North-eastern states. It has seriously started campaigning in Meghalaya which goes to poll in March 2023. Having bitten the dust in Tripura in the last Assembly polls held in 2018 and by-poll in 2021, TMC’s focus on Meghalaya came to fore after the former chief minister Mukul Sangma switched camps from Congress to Trinamool in November 2021. Interestingly, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s mission to evolve from a regional party to a national party is being shaped in the north-east. It may be recalled that her Goa experiment failed miserably. Didi, who is personally focusing only on West Bengal, has asked her nephew, party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee to oversee the North-eastern states affairs. And he has got into the new role quickly. He has already addressed a rally in Tura and is expected to do more in the coming months. Besides, he has launched a scathing attack against the present state government led by Conrad Sangma, chief of National People’s Party, who is in alliance with the BJP. Abhishek has claimed that the NPP government is shadow governed by the Centre and Assam chief minister Hemant Biswa Sarma. He announced that “sons of the Meghalaya’s soil Chief Minister Mukul Sangma would be the party’s chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls and that the TMC will not run the new government from Bengal if it comes to power.
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Sporadic Violence Ahead Of Panchayat Polls Gives Trinamool Congress Jitters

With months to go for the Panchayat Election 2023, reports of back-to-back violence, crude bomb blasts, recovery of firearms and live bombs are being reported in some districts of West Bengal. Some of the districts of South Bengal — Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, and Junglemahal areas have seen recent cases of political violence with bomb blasts killing three minors and injuring several people including children in separate incidents. Both Didi and second in command of the party, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee have been categorical to keep away from violence after the party suffered brutal electoral losses in last Lok Sabha polls due to political violence that took place during Panchayat Election 2018. Incidentally, both Bengal Police and Bengal Special Task Force (STF) have arrested a number of people having allegiance to the ruling party for being involved in the blasts and clashes. This has largely prompted Oppositions to claim that Bengal is “on a bed of bombs and arms”. However, senior cabinet minister Firhad Hakim countered stating the Union Government has eased inter-state border vigilance so that arms could be smuggled into the state to create anarchy. According to political analysts, the panchayats of Bengal have emerged as the epicenter of political violence as they provide critical opening for the parties to strengthen their hold over nearly every aspect of rural society besides the dominance and political influence to the grassroots.
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Will TMC Minister’s Remark Against President Murmu Affect Didi’s Tribal Votes?

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee is on a two-day tour to the two most tribal-dominated districts of Jhargram and West Midnapore amid off-the-cuff remarks by one of her ministers regarding President Droupadi Murmu. The tour also holds significance, with an increase in Maoist activities and considerable hold of the BJP in this area. Didi first conducted administrative review meetings in West Midnapore and Jhargram, followed by a political rally at Midnapore College grounds. She also met the leaders and functionaries to brief them ahead of the rural polls. Incidentally, there is a potential electoral impact since tribal voters account for about 5.8% of Bengal’s total population and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won five of the eight tribal-dominated seats across the districts of Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Birbhum, popularly called Junglemahal. However, Didi recovered her lost ground by winning 28 of the 54 tribal-dominated seats in south Bengal which includes four Assembly seats in Jhargram and 13 of 15 constituencies in West Midnapore in 2021. According to party insiders, Mamata is worried about the reports of infighting in Jhargram between her tribal MLA Dulal Murmu and a strongman of the district leadership, Ujjal Dutta. She is also worried about the absence of her most trusted lieutenant Anubrata Mondal, who was also looking after the party functioning in West Midnapore, besides Birbhum.

No Truck With BJP In West Bengal Panchayat Poll, Says CPM

Relying on the strong rural connect CPM is going all out to seal the spot in Panchayat Elections to be held in West Bengal in 2023. Having returned empty-handed in the Lok Sabha Polls 2019 and State Assembly elections 2021, the CPM is clear that this Panchayat Election is a do-or-die situation for its political existence in the state. Incidentally, the CPM had to bite the dust in the wake of anti-land acquisition movements losing around 50% panchayat seats in 2008, leading to the fall of its citadel in 2011. It continued with Trinamool Congress going all guns out for an uncontested win in the 2018 polls. Sources said that the Left top brass believes that terming TMC as “B Team” of BJP led to the decline of their vote share, where anti-TMC votes translated into saffron share. Hence, the recent dictate from the party leadership is that no official or unofficial pact with the BJP in upcoming panchayat elections. Significantly, TMC’s corruption and a beleaguered BJP led to the increase of vote share of CPM in recent past. With vote share declining to 4.71% during 2021 Assembly polls held in March, CPM clawed back with 11.87% in Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls held in December same year. These numbers went up further to 14.2% and 16.75% respectively in the Municipal elections across Bengal held during February and March 2022.
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L To R: Dilip Ghosh, Sukanta Majumdar And Suvendu Adhikari

Suvendu Adhikari Tipped To Be Next West Bengal BJP Chief, Sangh Parivar Not Happy?

It is daggers drawn in the West Bengal unit of BJP.  According to party insiders, the state BJP President Sukanta Majumdar is likely to go; he may be replaced by the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. If this happens, Suvendu will resign from the post of LoP giving way to BJP MLA Manoj Tigga, chief whip of the state unit. These changes will be made once Panchayat Poll dates are announced. Majumdar is likely to get a shunting post of central secretary or any post in the parliamentary party. All these developments come against the backdrop of the party’s new state observer and All India General Secretary (Organization) BL Santosh’s discussions with the Bengal committee members following Majumdar’s failure to attack TMC over a series of issues. Besides, it is known that Suvendu even while at TMC had great acceptance, ground-level reach and connect. This will benefit BJP in the Panchayat Polls. However, both RSS and the old guards of the BJP are against Suvendu’s ascension as the next state president. They are rooting for National vice president and former state president Dilip Ghosh, a diehard RSS man. The state RSS and VHP members feel, if Suvendu becomes the state president, the power of the party will go into the hands of Trinamool turncoat which will tarnish the prospects of BJP in Panchayat polls.
Mamata Banerji

Trinamool Congress Infighting Leaves The Party In Docks

Factional feud and infighting among senior leaders of Trinamool Congress (TMC), for the past few days, has made it split wide open ahead of the party’s Lok Sabha dream. While the BJP is trying desperately to regain its lost grounds in Bengal, the TMC infighting among the senior guards is adding fodder to saffron motive. Local MLA Tapas Roy took a jibe against party colleague and MP Sudip Banerjee of indulging in “anti-party” activity by “keeping a good rapport with BJP” as well as a “corrupt politician who has spent days in jail” for his involvement in a Ponzi scam 2017. Though Sudip did not make any counter claims but referred to the common saying “Hathi chale bazar…..”. Sudip is Didi’s representative in Delhi who has interacted with PM Narendra Modi several times on her behalf. In fact, Didi had invited Sudip and his wife, MLA Nayana Banerjee to a programme held in her constituency, making it clear about her support. Another local MLA Tapas Chatterjee expressed his dissatisfaction for not being invited to Didi’s event held at a venue situated within his constituency. In both incidents, senior party leaders, MP Sougata Roy and local MLA Madan Mitra came out in support of Roy and Chatterjee respectively. However, according to party insiders, on both occasions, Didi has expressed her anger with close circuit. She is quoted saying that Chatterjee could have spoken to her instead of going to the media.
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CPI (M) Hits The Roads With “Nazare Panchayat” And Helpline For Complaints Against TMC

A renewed vigour can be witnessed with the CPI(M) West Bengal Unit. CPI(M) has always relied on its grassroots connections, especially the panchayats. Having been decimated in the 2021 Assembly election with no representation, the Left is now leaving no stones unturned to capitalize on their cadre politics. For 2023 Panchayat polls it has launched its campaign “Nazare Panchayat” (Eye on Panchayat) with a helpline number asking to submit complaints against the Trinamool Congress. It has also shared a video claiming that within the first seven days of the campaign the party has received 1500 complaints. Out of which, 55% are against TMC leaders, 77% of calls are from rural areas and 40% of those are related to panchayat issues. Significantly, the CPI(M) state leadership including state secretary Mohammad Salim, senior politburo members Sujan Chakraborty, Abhash Roy Chowdhury, Debolina Hembram, youth leaders Meenakshi Mukherjee, Satarup Ghosh are leading several protest marches, addressing rallies in the districts. The student and youth wing of the party — SFI, DYFI — recently called for an Insaf Sabha in Kolkata seeking justice for the murder of one of their youth leader Anis Khan witnessing a large turnout. It also held similar rallies in Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, West Midnapore, Malda, and Raiganj. Incidentally, a supporter with bow and arrow surfaced during the Raigunj rally, which reminded the erstwhile Left agitation in Bengal.
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Will Bengal BJP Side With Congress, CPI (M) Against TMC For 2023 Panchayat Polls?

Panchayat polls in West Bengal is due in 2023 and the ground reality is that besides TMC, CPI(M)’s performance stands best with its network of cadres spread across. BJP still struggles with only a “Nabanna Abhijyan” (march to state secretariat) a face saver.  TMC is mired in corruption charges following the arrest of two of its top leaders and BJP leadership expected a groundswell in the party’s favour. That was not to be. Having failed to capitalize on this, prompted the party to seek support from its arch rivals — the CPI(M) and Congress during Nabanna Abhijyan. State president Sukanta Majumder had to tweet seeking support from the arch rivals asking them to participate in their programme, keeping aside political differences. More surprisingly, even his predecessor and critic Dilip Ghosh supported the call. It is a known fact that CPI(M) and Congress support each other to capture a Gram Panchayat or to rule a Zilla Parishad. District BJP leaders have made it clear to the state high command that it will not stop itself from supporting CPI(M) or Congress in forming a panchayat. The district leaders are aware that the majority of the supporters from Left and Congress switched camps in 2021 only to defeat TMC and now they have all moved back. As a support to the idea, the state BJP is all out to capitalize on CPI(M)’s programme Chor Dharo Jail Bharo.
Mamta Banerjee and PM Modi

Why Didi Gave “Clean Chit” To PM Modi

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s latest attempt to de-link PM Narendra Modi from the ED-CBI investigation in the state surprised the political fraternity across the country. “Modi is not doing these things,” Didi told her state assembly while speaking about the recent raids by the CBI and ED against top Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, rather passing the onus completely to second-in-command of the country Amit Shah. Incidentally, besides NIA no other agencies come directly under the Union Home Ministry and no investigation would be possible without a go-ahead from the PM. Meanwhile, TMC is clear that Didi along with chief ministers such as Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren will join hands to fight BJP vis a vis PM Narendra Modi in 2024 and continue to be the “fulcrum of opposition unity”. Political analysts in West Bengal feel it is too much of a risk as Lok Sabha Polls are two years away and with TMC government only 16 months old it needs to have cordial relations with the Centre for its smooth functioning as well as tackle several issues like GST dues, fund allocations etc.  Analysts also feel that it is slowly dawning on Mamata that the opposition unity remains an unreal proposition, especially with Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi two of the main Hindi-heartland anti-BJP forces doing their own brand of politics?
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Didi Plays The Hindu Card, Hikes Grant To Durga Pandals And Puts Lid On Inner Party Rumblings

For this year’s Durga Puja, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to increase the grant to 40,000-plus Durga pandals from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 each which will cost the State exchequer Rs 240 crore. This grant, part of Didi’s vote bank politics, was started in 2018 and continues to draw flaks from the Opposition. It also finds no favour from her own party men as they feel the imagery propagates Hinduism which will benefit the BJP. Is this hike in grant Mamata’s desperate attempt to rebuild a clean image of her party? Isn’t this a big risk when time and again Didi has been stating that the state’s financial health is not at its best as a result of which the government employees disbursements have been stalled, new recruitments postponed and crucial repair of embankments in riverine Bengal put on hold? Analysts feel that this could be seen as the deflection of attention from the rumbles of unrest between the party’s old guard and emerging younger leadership. Adding further analysts explain Mamata’s pujas extravaganza is to blunt the allegations of the BJP about her alleged indifference to the sentiments of the majority community. Even her recent rally to thank UNESCO for the “Heritage” tag for Durga Puja is another clear attempt to divert political instability within the party.

Is BJP Leader Dilip Ghosh Defying Party Lines In West Bengal?

All is not well with the West Bengal BJP unit ever since Trinamool Congress came to power with a thumping majority for the third term. The divide in the state saffron unit was clear since Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumder became the state president replacing Dilip Ghosh. Ghosh, a diehard RSS man, was the state president between 2015 and 2020 and under him BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats. Recently, Ghosh criticized the CBI stating that it has “done some setting in Bengal”, putting the BJP leadership in a spot. His criticism can be attributed to the RSS’s cold war with the BJP. This is reflected as a direct attack on PM Narendra Modi. Moreover, it is not the first time Ghosh has defied the gag order from the central leadership. Earlier in June, in an email communique, the former Bengal president was asked to refrain from making comments against his party colleagues. Even the party president JP Nadda spoke to him on this issue. However, repeated defiance by Ghosh makes a section in the BJP believe that he enjoys sanction from “powerful authorities”. It is learnt that RSS has a game plan to add around 700 more shakhas to its existing network of 1,900 shakhas in West Bengal by 2024. This syncs well with Ghosh’s defiance.
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Post Partha-Anubrata Fiasco Didi-Nephew Go All Out To Restructure Trinamool Congress

With two of the senior party leaders in jail over corruption charges the debate of the era of young rule has once again surfaced in Trinamool Congress (TMC). Recently an explicit banner in support of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee who is also the party’s national general secretary was put up near Didi’s home turf of Kalighat. The banner read “In the next 6 months, TMC will come up in a new avatar. Just like the one desired by the people”. Within 48 hours, a counter banner was put up in the same area stating “Old is base, new is the future”. The poster also read, “Under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and under the command of Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool has been and will remain”. Post the Partha-Anubrata fiasco, the ruling party is undergoing an organizational overhaul across all the units including the youth wing, women’s wing, and students’ wing besides the mother unit. The whole process is being overseen by Abhishek. Once restructuring is complete then Didi along with Abhishek and others in the top-tier leadership are likely to meet all the office-bearers right down to the grassroots. According to insiders, Didi will be laying out the road map for the rank and file, which will be diligently followed after the Puja season. It will essentially be the run-up to the panchayat elections next year.
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Is Mamata Grooming Her Nephew Abhishek To Take Over The Party?

The uneasy question among the top leadership of Trinamool Congress is: who would take up the mantle from the party supremo Mamata Banerjee. Significantly, after a long time, Didi was accompanied by Abhishek Banerjee who holds the position of national general secretary during her recent visit to New Delhi. He was also present with Mamata when she took stock of her party’s activities in the monsoon session and endorsed the joint opposition moves in Parliament, especially those against the BJP’s use of central agencies to raid and arrest opposition leaders. Incidentally, a section of senior leaders including Kalyan Banerjee had been vocal about Abhishek’s prominence in the party. He was criticized for both the Goa election and Tripura bypoll debacle, and also for trying to replicate the Diamond Harbour model, his Lok Sabha constituency. However, the opposing faction including Kalyan babu praised Abhishek stating that the young leader gave space and a patient hearing to all senior MPs and leaders. But, the message is loud and clear; in the run-up to the party’s Martyrs’ Day rally in Kolkata, posters put up across the state featured just two leaders — Didi and her nephew Abhishek. Furthermore, it’s Abhishek who’s now expanding the party in Tripura, Goa, Assam, and Meghalaya. Clearly, Abhishek is being projected as the natural successor of Mamata Banerjee, but it has been the BJP that made him a leader by constantly attacking him.

TMC On The Backfoot As Party’s Strongman Anubrata Mandal Arrested

Nothing seems to be going well with the ruling Trinamool Congress after two of its prominent leaders Anubrata Mandal and Partha Chatterjee were arrested by the central agencies CBI and ED respectively. However, despite washing away hands from these two leaders, TMC has been prompt in protesting against Mandal’s arrest in a subtle way by organizing a two-day protest through youth and students wing. However, this was not the case for “Parthada”. “Kestoda” as Mandal is popularly called has held an unprecedented power for over a decade despite not holding any position in the government, not even as an elected legislative representative. His exceptional organizational skill of mobilising the masses to counter the Left in their erstwhile citadel of Birbhum helped Mandal to gain prominence in the TMC. Incidentally, Bahubali of Birbhum helped the party to win 11 out of 12 seats from Birbhum in the 2021 Assembly elections, and both Lok Sabha seats — Bolpur and Birbhum in 2019. Does Anubrata hold power beyond his district? Yes, he does. His influence spread over Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, which is why he was also made a part of the party’s national working committee. Kestoda, who is also a fundraiser for the party, has delivered on all fronts, party insiders. And this is why Mamata Banerjee has always defended him vehemently in public especially now by holding protest marches after his arrest.
Mamta news

NITI Aayog Meet: Did Didi Deliberately Keep A Low Profile In Delhi?

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent visit to New Delhi remained a low-key affair despite meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi appraising him about the state dues. She has always remained vocal and the biggest critic of the Modi Government and the BJP. But this time, her New Delhi visit did cover several meetings, sans high octane protest and meeting the media. Mamata’s mellowed stance about her visit has led to several questions. A section of the Opposition chief ministers said that Mamata despite attending the NITI Aayog meeting after a long time was not herself that of being extremely vocal. One of the insiders said that during the meeting, Didi did not complain or oppose the government policies. Interestingly, the TMC supremo in her last letter to the Prime Minister complained about non-payment of dues of Rs 97,000 crore by the Centre. Incidentally, chief ministers of Odisha, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Punjab briefed the media about their demands and observations. But not TMC. Insiders say that the media cell of the TMC was asked not to share any information pertaining to her visit. The CPI(M) has pointed out that the visit was mainly to address the ED raids pertaining to the SSC-Teacher Recruitment Scam involving a senior cabinet minister of her government. Presumably, Didi maintained a low profile to avoid any attack on her government over corruption charges.


Post Partha Debacle, Didi On The Path Of Image Correction

The three-time chief minister of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee who had over the years made a clean image of her trademark white cotton sari and rubber chappals is on a path of image correction after the recent recovery of Rs 50 crore allegedly accumulated by her senior cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee. Right now, despite sacking Parthda (as referred to by Didi), the TMC supremo needs to rebuild her image with the Opposition parties. After her thumping hat-trick win in Assembly Polls last year, Mamata was upbeat and confident of taking her brand national and becoming the fulcrum of the Opposition’s planned league against Prime Minister Modi for the 2024 general election. But the TMC chief still does not hold all the cards in the fight against BJP and needs to build bridges with the rest of the Opposition. Mamata will be in Delhi from August 4-8, says party source. Though the official reason for her visit is to boost the confidence of TMC MPs who have been at the forefront of protests against the Modi government. Also, her meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi remains unclear due to TMC’s strained relationship with Congress. It is also being said that the TMC chief is likely to make an appearance in the Central Hall of the Parliament.
21 July Rally7

Is Mamata Banerjee Deliberately Projecting CPI(M) As Her Principal Opposition Instead Of BJP In West Bengal?

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was at her usual self in launching a scathing attack on CPI(M) during her address at the Martyrs’ Day Rally in the heart of Kolkata on July 21. She not only referred to the alleged corruption during the Left Front regime but also threatened to rake up controversial files which would be a deviation from her slogan “Badla Noy Badol Chai” (No Revenge, But Change). Amid the row over irregularities in School Service Commission (SSC) appointments, Mamata slammed the CPI(M) by referring to the erstwhile government which always favoured and appointed the wives of CPI(M) party cadres as school teachers. She categorically named senior CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who has been contesting the TMC government over irregularities in SSC appointments for some time now. Is Mamata’s reference to the CPI(M) and Left Front a clear attempt to project CPI(M) as her principal opposition? Political observers believe that Mamata is clear about her opponents which remain Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. She doesn’t even take names of state BJP leaders instead she’s in cordial terms with veterans of CPI(M).Will CPI(M) take a cue from Mamata’s attack to rejuvenate the party and set forth Bhattacharya as the new face of the party?
21 July Rally5

Only TMC Has The Spine To Take On BJP, Says Mamata At Martyrs’ Day Rally

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made a call to reject the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls. Addressing at the Shaheed Diwas (Martyrs’ Day) rally in the heart of Kolkata, Didi launched a scathing attack on the BJP stating that 2024 will not be a vote for election, but one for rejection of BJP for its monumental incompetence. Mamata made it clear that only her party has the spine to take on the BJP since her party is not afraid of ED, CBI and other Central agencies. Mamata said that in 2024, when the BJP fails to form a majority, the Opposition parties have to come together to set up the next government. According to political observers, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo had been trying to bring the Opposition parties together by organising a mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground but that attempt failed in 2019 general elections. Mamata stressed that in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, her party will win in West Bengal and other states such as Tripura, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh where it would be contesting. Significantly, the TMC chief remained tight-lipped about Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s questioning by the ED. However, party insiders say that Didi is focused on regaining the lost Lok Sabha seats, Opposition unity will therefore come later.
Martyr's day rally 1

Didi To Unveil TMC’s National Agenda At Martyrs Day Rally As More Cong, BJP Leaders Flock To Her Party

After a gap of two years, Trinamool Congress is holding its Martyrs’ Day Rally in Kolkata on July 21 with the party chairperson and chief minister Mamata Banerjee likely to raise her national pitch ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, and to lay out the big strategy of expanding TMC base outside West Bengal. This will be the first physical rally after Mamata’s historic hat-trick win in the State Assembly polls last year. Even though the senior party leaders including second-in-command of the party and Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee remained tight-lipped, speculations are rife that some senior leaders from both BJP and Congress are likely to join the TMC. One-time aide of Mamata, Sovan Chatterjee and his associate Baishakhi Banerjee are likely to rejoin the party after a gap of almost four years. Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh who switched camps from TMC to BJP during 2019 Lok Sabha Polls was back in the party a couple of months ago. Now his son Pawan is likely to join the TMC. Besides them, three prominent Congress leaders of National ranks presumably from North South and North East States would also be present at the rally tomorrow. Interestingly, after catering to the northeast with the Tripura bypoll election and making public Mamata’s national ambition with the Goa election, large TV screens will be placed in Meghalaya and other north-eastern states for the audience to watch Mamata speak.

Is CPI(M) In West Bengal Still Basking In Its Past Glory?

The CPI (M) in West Bengal is currently under extreme political crisis after being completely whitewashed in the 2021 Bengal Assembly Election. With no MLAs at the Assembly, the party has been trying desperately to reach out to the grassroot level and increase their public relations by highlighting the achievements of the 34 years of Left Front regime. Lack of leaders with the stature of someone like the late chief minister and CPI (M) patriarch Jyoti Basu and his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the party continues to highlight upon their 34 years of Left Front regime. Moreover, it celebrated the anniversary of the establishment of the first Left Front government. Numerous social media posts and videos were shared along with the talk shows participated by former Left Front chairman Biman Bose, former Left Front minister and senior leaders Surjya Kanta Mishra, Ashok Bhattacharya and others. Significantly, Bhattacharjee still remains still the go-to person, despite staying away from public limelight since leaving office in 2011. The party made an interesting choice, when it urged the 78-year-old ailing Bhattacharjee to address the 11th All India Conference of the CPI (M)’s youth wing the Democratic Youth Federation of India recently held in Kolkata. For a party that is now looking to gain a toehold in the state after over a decade of continuous electoral reverses, has also held ahead several events on the occasion of Jyoti Basu’s 109th Birth Anniversary.

Former Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb

Fissures Within Tripura BJP Widen As Former CM Biplab Deb Sidelined

Even though BJP continues with its winning streak in the bypolls of Tripura State Assembly, all is not well within the party. Internal feuds continue to loom large just months ahead of the Tripura State Assembly Polls in early 2023. The rift which transpired after the sudden replacement of the chief minister Biplab Deb a month ago, resurfaced after the former CM was sidelined during the programme to host Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. Deb was not seen along with Murmu and chief minister Manik Saha on the dais. He had to be content sitting with the group of common legislators perfectly hinting at “dais to diaspora”. The incident has not gone down well with Deb’s followers. They have taken up the matter with National president J P Nadda and also intend to personally meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. The rift basically ensued as these followers believed that the replacement of former chief minister with low-key medical practitioner Saha, who was also a late entrant and an ex-Congressman, was temporary. Fissures have deepened further with a clear indication when a relatively weak candidate was nominated to the prestigious Agartala seat during the recent bypoll against a strong Congressman. It was literally a walkover for Sudip Roy Burman who recently went back to his original party – Congress – from BJP.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.