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Adhir Ranjan chowdhury_002

West Bengal Congress Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury To Be Replaced By Nepal Mahata?

In a significant political development, the Indian National Congress is poised to replace Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress following his defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. Despite being a trusted lieutenant of the Gandhi family, Chowdhury’s electoral defeat has intensified concerns about the party’s performance in West Bengal, even after forming an alliance with the CPI(M) in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Party insiders reveal that the Congress High Command has shortlisted four leaders to replace Chowdhury. They are: Nepal Mahata, Shankar Malakar, Subhankar Sarkar and Abdus Sattar, a former Left minister who joined the Congress a couple of years ago. Notably, Chowdhury himself is reportedly backing Nepal Mahata as his replacement. A crucial meeting with the Pradesh Congress to discuss the leadership change was scheduled but was postponed due to Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Manipur. In addition to the four, the name of senior Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi, widow of the late Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, has also been doing the rounds. However, there is scepticism within the AICC regarding her candidacy due to her current role as the general secretary of AICC Telangana and Lakshadweep. Amidst the leadership transition, local Congress leaders have proposed creating two separate units for West Bengal, similar to the organizational structure in Maharashtra. This would mean establishing one unit for the state and another specifically for Kolkata.
CPI_004

Unusual Move: Election Setback Sees CPI (M) Seek Feedback From The Public

In a bid to revitalize its political strategy following recent electoral setbacks, the Bengal CPI(M), has broadened its outreach to include public opinion outside traditional party lines. The Left party recently made a public appeal to share their perspectives via email, an initiative that quickly garnered significant attention. Although the specific contents of these messages remain confidential, sources within the district CPI(M) have revealed that the feedback highlights several critical issues such as concerns about organizational weaknesses, structural problems, leadership fragmentation, and inefficiencies in booth-level operations. Additionally, there is growing discontent regarding disconnect between the youthful representation at the state level and its effectiveness in grassroots activities. This outreach initiative underscores the party’s commitment to introspection and its efforts to address internal challenges by engaging directly with the public. Despite reserved positions for an age group of under-31 members in Area Committees aimed at youth inclusion, numerous committees across the state have struggled to fill vacancies even after three years, prompting widespread lower-level discontent. A CPI(M) member expressed concern that while the party organizes social media campaigns at the state-level, there is a disconnect at the booth level. A senior CPI(M) district leader questioned why state-level leaders are not more active at the grassroots, lacking awareness of local constituents, despite booth-level workers engaging with senior leaders on social platforms. Furthermore, allegations have surfaced alleging ‘understanding’ between local leadership and the Trinamool in various areas, reaching the attention of Alimuddin Street, the headquarters of the Left. Senior state leaders have acknowledged in internal discussions that they lack awareness of the true organizational dynamics at the booth level.
Mamata _Campaign

Mamata Banerjee Warns TMC Ministers And Party Leaders to Shape Up

In a recent state cabinet meeting, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed her frustration with several ministers and leaders over allegations of corruption and non-performance. Giving stern warning to her cabinet, she has made it clear that she will not tolerate any lapses in governance, particularly in addressing civic issues and ensuring the general functioning of the government. It is speculated that her dissatisfaction with her ministers stems from a deeper analysis of the Lok Sabha election results. Despite the TMC securing a decisive victory by winning 29 out of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, a closer examination reveals underlying vulnerabilities in the party’s standing. While the TMC won both parliamentary seats in Kolkata, the party’s performance in the city’s municipal wards indicated a less dominant position. The TMC led in 93 wards under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, but the BJP’s significant presence, leading in 48 wards, highlighted growing opposition strength in urban areas. The BJP’s lead extended beyond Kolkata, with notable inroads in several civic bodies across the state. Didi’s displeasure is rooted in reports of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of responsiveness by local leaders. Such issues have eroded public trust and provided the BJP with an opportunity to gain ground. The CM’s stern reaction towards her ministers appears to be linked to her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee’s, critical assessment of the government’s performance. As the party’s national general secretary, Abhishek has been vocal about issues like corruption and inefficiency within the administration.
Adhir Ranjan chowdhury_004

Has Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's Defeat Brought TMC-Cong Closer?

The defeat of five-time Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to Trinamool Congress seems to have not only relegated Chowdhury to the status of a state leader but also triggered speculations about a potential alliance between the Congress and TMC during the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament. Chowdhury’s loss is seen as a significant political shift. His vocal opposition to TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had been a major factor in the “unwritten distance” between the Congress and TMC during parliamentary activities. His defeat is expected to change the dynamics, as many TMC MPs have pointed out that his presence was a barrier to cooperation between the two parties. With Rahul Gandhi known for his excellent rapport with Didi, the possibility of a Congress-TMC alliance seems more likely. Now, with Chowdhury’s diminished role, there is a newfound optimism about smoother collaboration between the two parties. On the other hand, Chowdhury has maintained that he was the first among Opposition leaders to support TMC MP Mahua Maitra during the cash-for-query scandal and her subsequent expulsion from the House.
agnimitra locket debasree

Agnimitra Paul, Locket Chatterjee, Debasree Chaudhuri

Bengal BJP Eyes Female Leadership To Woo Women Voters From TMC Fold

After yet another disappointing performance in West Bengal, the state BJP’s post-poll analysis has underscored the pivotal role of women voters and the influence of Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee. The BJP believes that schemes like Lakshmi Bhandar have further solidified the allegiance of women voters to Didi, making it challenging for the BJP to make inroads in the state. A section of BJP leaders has acknowledged that Banerjee’s targeted social schemes — such as the Widow Pension, Swasthya Sathi, Kanyashree, and Roopashree — have resonated strongly with the female electorate. The BJP’s internal dynamics are also set for a change, where current state president, Sukanta Majumdar, who is also the MP for Balurghat, has been inducted into the Modi government as a junior minister. This development has spurred discussions about his successor, especially since the central leadership has expressed dissatisfaction with the results under Majumdar’s leadership. With the West Bengal State Election slated for 2026, the BJP is keenly aware that winning over women voters is crucial to reversing its fortunes. Speculations are rife that the BJP may appoint a woman as the state president to counter Banerjee’s influence effectively. Names like Locket Chatterjee, Agnimitra Paul, Debasree Chaudhuri, and Malti Rava Roy are being considered, with former Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee emerging as the frontrunner. However, the race for the state presidency is not limited to female leaders. Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari and former state president Dilip Ghosh are also in contention.
Suvendu Dilip

Adhikari Vs Ghosh: Internal Conflict Intensifies In Bengal BJP After Poor Lok Sabha Results

The internal rift within the Bengal BJP is deepening as prominent leaders continue to point fingers at Opposition Leader Suvendu Adhikari for the party’s disappointing performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The political discord is escalating, with senior leader and former state president Dilip Ghosh indirectly accusing Adhikari of orchestrating the candidate selection process that led to the party’s downfall. Ghosh has suggested that his own transfer from the Medinipur constituency to the Bardhaman-Durgapur constituency was part of a deliberate strategy to undermine his chances. Under Ghosh’s leadership, the BJP achieved its best-ever results in Bengal, winning 18 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and securing 77 seats in the 2021 State Assembly polls, making the party the principal opposition force. In response to the criticisms, Adhikari has maintained that his role was limited to campaigning for the party and not interfering in organizational decisions. He has refrained from engaging in public debates about internal party issues. The unrest has spurred some party members to call for Ghosh’s reinstatement as state president, especially since the current president Sukanta Majumder has been made a minister at the Centre. Supporters of Adhikari argue that he remains a potent force against the Trinamool Congress (TMC), citing his significant victory over TMC leader Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram during the 2021 elections. Adhikari’s recent absence from a critical state party meeting on June 15, opting instead to be in Cooch Behar to support victims of post-election political violence, has added fuel to the internal controversies.
abhishek banerjee_003

Abhishek Banerjee's Short Holiday Fuels Speculation Of Rift Within Trinamool Congress?

At a time when Trinamool Congress is celebrating its second best Lok Sabha poll results there is a manifestation of simmering discontent within the party’s top leadership. The trigger seems to be a tweet by the party’s national general secretary and second-in-command Abhishek Banerjee about taking a short break from politics. The timing seems to have given grist to the rumour mills about the real reason for this break. Abhishek stated that he is going for medical reasons.  But, a section of party insiders say Abhishek is unhappy on several fronts. First, with the functioning of the state government as it fails to deliver the promises made by the party to the people. Second, he has expressed his displeasure over the names of the candidates nominated for the bypoll elections for four Assembly seats.  One of the high profile seats of Maniktala is going to be contested by the former state minister Sadhan Pandey’s widow Supti Pandey. Since this does not meet his approval, he is likely to keep away from canvassing for her.  Third, he seems miffed that his selected candidate Shahnawaz Ali Raihan, an Oxford scholar lost Malda south seat. He blames this loss on party workers not doing their best. Fourth, there is a continuous undercurrent between old vs new guard. For instance, Didi’s close aide Firhad Hakim has been sent to Siliguri to look into reasons for the poll defeat of North Bengal which was overseen by Abhishek. Finally, despite the fact young candidates selected by Abhishek won the elections, the party Supremo has once again reposed her faith in Sudip Banerjee and Kalyan Banerjee by making them chief whips of the party in the Parliament.
CPI(M)_002

Is Bengal CPI-M Losing Its Grip In The Politburo?

Post the poll debacle, West Bengal CPI-M is wary of its position in the Politburo. It is learnt that at the first Politburo meeting that was held on June 9, to analyse the poll performance of the CPI-M, there was no mention of the Bengal unit in the statement released after the meeting. Incidentally, top leaders from Bengal have expressed serious concerns over this stating that they are somewhat shocked at this and cannot recollect anything similar like this has happened in the past. Interestingly, CPI-M politburo mentioned in the meeting that while BJP has failed to match its tallies of 2014 and 2019, INDIA bloc has performed quite well to stop the BJP. It further stated that although Left parties have managed to improve their tally with eight MPs (CPI-M – 4, CPI -2, CPI-ML-2), it is disappointed with the performance of the Kerala unit. What has surprised the Bengal leaders is that there has been no mention of Bengal’s performance or an analysis of allying with the Congress in the state. Politburo member Nilotpal Basu said that the politburo knew Bengal’s situation was much more unfavorable than in Kerala. The Politburo congratulated Bengal for fighting against these difficult conditions. However, in Bengal speculations are rife that absence of mention of Bengal in the Politburo statement is a sign of loss of importance.” The Politburo has three members from Bengal — Mohammed Salim, Ramachandra Dom and Suryakanta Mishra. As Mishra’s term comes to an end owing to his age, the state CPM leaders fear that the ‘quota’ of Bengal in the Politburo may be reduced with no one replacing Mishra. Bengal CPI-M committee will hold its poll review meeting on June 19-20.
mamata abhishek_002

Once Again Didi Stops BJP In The Track; Party Reshuffle On Cards?

With a win of 29 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, party supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has once again proved that she is a very tough opponent to crack. Beleaguered by the Sandeshkhali controversy, Teachers Recruitment scam, arrest of senior TMC ministers and leaders put Didi on the backfoot. But, her astuteness came to the fore in choosing candidates to stop what seemed a BJP’s juggernaut. She not only chose surprise faces such as former cricketers Kirti Azad and Yusuf Pathan, actress Rachana Banerjee, she even put forward her trusted lieutenants and cabinet ministers such as Partha Bhowmick, Biplab Mitra to contest the seats.  Her decision to increase the expenditure for the Lakshmir Bhandar initiative touched the women voters across the state. Sources say that Didi is scheduled to meet her newly elected MPs on June 8 and one could expect a major ‘shuffle’ in the organisation based on the results of the Lok Sabha polls — where the party failed and where the margin dropped. Not only in the party but also at the panchayat and municipal levels, there may be several reshuffles. Sources also said, the evaluation work is going on at all three levels of the Panchayat by the poll strategy body IPAC. Close-aide of Didi have confirmed that the meeting has made it categorical to her nephew Abhishek Banerjee that the party should start preparing for the 2026 assembly polls. Interestingly, 2024 marks Mamata’s 40 years in politics, this covers her journey as a mercurial leader to a Mamata Magic, from unseating CPI(M)’s veteran, late Somnath Chatterjee to joining and leaving hastily both Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee governments to routing CPI(M) citadel in 2011 after 34 years of rule.
Mamata abhishek

After Big Lok Sabha Win, Didi Paving The Way For Nephew Abhishek?

Trinamool Congress once again managed to derail BJP by winning 29 Lok Sabha seats against BJP’s mere 12 against 18 in 2019.  With such good tidings, the party supremo Mamata Banerjee seems to indirectly indicate that her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who made this big win possible, will succeed her. Didi’s magic and Abhishek’s poll strategies made sure that TMC’s win.  As for his own win, Abhishek won by a record seven lakh plus votes. Didi announced at the press conference that Abhishek will be her representative at the I.N.D.I.A. front meetings and decision making processes. It was Abhishek’s strategy to give the impression that the BJP intended to halt benefit initiatives by Mamata’s government, if BJP comes to power. Earlier, he had undertaken several protest programmes including a dharna at New Delhi to protest against the Modi government for not releasing MNREGA funds.  Despite the youth-senior conflict within TMC, the Opposition’s jabs at ‘corruption’ and ‘nepotism’, Abhishek’s strategy appealed to Bengali voters. He also played an important role in the campaign plan, selection of slogans, and holding meetings with party leadership across the state. According to Trinamool sources, the main slogan of the party in the Lok Sabha elections is the brainchild of Abhishek. Mamata’s remarks at a press conference following the election fuelled further speculations. She said, praising Abhishek’s efforts demonstrated amazing leadership and determination. Although she did not formally designate him as her successor, the endorsement was interpreted that eventually he will step into her shoes.
mamata suvendu

Sixth Phase Poll: Didi’s High Stake Battle Against BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari For Eight Seats

In the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 25, West Bengal is headed for a dramatic showdown in eight seats — Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia, Bishnupur, Medinipur, Tamluk, Kanthi and Ghatal. Significantly, five of these seats are held by BJP and the remaining three — Tamluk, Kanthi and Ghatal are with ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). However, Kanthi and Tamluk were held by Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari’s father Sisir Adhikari and his younger brother Dibyendu Adhikari who have also moved from TMC to BJP. While BJP has fielded Soumendu Adhikari, another brother of Suvendu from Kanthi, the saffron camp has given a surprise ticket to retired judge Abhijit Ganguly. Ganguly has been the fiercest critic of Didi who gave ruling against the TMC government in the Teacher’s Recruitment Scam. Both Kanthi and Tamluk have special attention as former being the hometown of Adhikaris and Tamluk also has Nandigram Assembly segment which is held by the Opposition leader. It may be recalled that Didi was defeated by her former ally Suvendu in the 2021 Assembly election at the Nandigram seat. Meanwhile, BJP is up for Ghatal seat, where TMC’s star candidate and incumbent MP Dev Dipak Adhikari is contesting against BJP’s MLA Hiranmoy Chatterjee. There was a war of words when Adhikari accused Dev of taking money and expensive gifts from a relative of a cattle smuggling accused. Dev, however, denied these allegations stating that he had only taken a loan from a firm for his film production in 2022, which he has repaid, and denied receiving any gifts from third parties. It is clear that this penultimate phase of polling is a matter of survival for Didi while for Suvendu it is all eight wins.
mamata_kartik

Didi’s Controversial Comment Provokes Hindu Saints To Stage Protest March

The controversial statement by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee against Hindu saints seems to have raised the political temperature in Kolkata. A section of saints have decided to walk bare feet in protest of the statement. The rally will take place on May 24, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Kolkata for the seventh phase of polling. According to Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) sources, sadhus, saints will undertake ‘Sant Swabhiman Yatra from Girish Avenue in North Kolkata to Swami Vivekananda’s ancestral home. Incidentally, the rally takes place in Kolkata North seat, which is being contested by BJP’s Tapas Roy against his arch rival and TMC veteran Sudip Bandopadhyay. During a recent campaign in Hooghly, Didi questioned Bharat Sevasram Sangha’s monk of Murshidabad Chapter – Kartik Maharaj (or Swami Pradiptananda) for his political comments of not allowing TMC agents during elections. She even stated that a section of saints from ISKCON, Bharat Sevashram Sangha are working on behalf of BJP. While, VHP head here in Kolkata Sachindranath Singh claimed that the Yatra is apolitical programme, the ruling Trinamool said that VHP which is part of RSS and BJP hence it is a way to use saints for political campaigning. Meanwhile, Didi found surprising support from her bitter critic — Pradesh Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who also said that Kartik Maharaj does not have the qualities of a saint and is known to people as a political figure.
Mamata_027

Didi Clarifies Stance, Signals Unity With I.N.D.I.A Bloc After 'Outside Support' Remark

The high-voltage Lok Sabha Election 2024 is witnessing several eye-catching claims, dialogues and then taking a complete u-turn from those. None other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been making statement after statement saying that he has never used “muslim polarisation” as his crux of any poll speech. Now joining him is Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee back tracking from her statement of “outside support” to the I.N.D.I.A government if voted to power within 24 hours. Didi has made it clear that her statement has been misinterpreted since she’s the one who created the Bloc, hence there is no room for outside or inside support since she’s part of it. However, her statement explains that Mamata wants the attention of the Bloc, maybe an invitation to lead it, after giving it the cold shoulder for months. Congress choosing Left over her in Bengal left Didi miffed which led her to distancing from the Bloc. Further, she was also angry that Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay Yatra passed through Bengal without informing her.  However, Didi’s comments can be influenced by the state’s 2026 assembly election, with Congress and CPI-M becoming formidable opponents. She must prepare to tackle the anti-incumbency campaign and stop BJP’s 77 MLAs, and potential Left revival, which could increase their vote shares. Having said so, not to be forgotten that Mamata like many veteran politicians has an eye on the PM’s chair.
Bengal BJP

Trinamool Accuses BJP Of Fielding Dummy Candidates In Bengal

As South Bengal gears up for remaining phases of ongoing Lok Sabha elections, a new controversy has emerged with accusations that the BJP is fielding dummy candidates to upset the electoral calculations of Trinamool Congress. Reportedly, the BJP which has no muslim candidates in Bengal’s 42 constituencies, has indirectly fielded Mumtaz Ali, as a ‘dummy’ candidate in the high profile south Kolkata constituency which has dominant muslim votes. BJP’s own candidate is Debasree Chaudhuri. This is a prestige seat for the Trinamool as it is the home turf of the party supremo Mamata Banerjee. She used to contest from here; now it is being contested by her loyalist Mala Roy. Similarly, at the Jadavpur seat, three dummy candidates — Arun Sarkar, Shankar Mandal and Avanikumar Mandal have been fielded by BJP making room for its nominated candidate Anirban Gangopadhyay and dent vote share of TMC’s Saayoni Ghosh. In the same manner, the BJP candidate for Barasat Lok Sabha constituency, Swapan Majumdar, has fielded an experienced BJP worker, Sumay Hira as a dummy candidate against TMC’s veteran and Didi loyalist, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar. However, at Trinamool ‘strongholds’ like Basirhat, Mathurapur, Uluberia, Jayanagar seats names of independent candidates are not being announced by the BJP. BJP leader Abhijit Das (Bobby) who’s contesting against Trinamool scion Abhishek Banerjee at Diamond Harbor seat is not revealing the names of dummy candidates for the fear of he/she may be attacked.
TMC BJP_002

In West Bengal, TMC and BJP Heavyweights In Neck-and-Neck Contest In Several Constituencies

As the voting process now enters into South Bengal beginning from the fourth phase, now it is a straight fight between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP.  Heavyweight candidates from BJP like Dilip Ghosh, SS Ahluwalia, Rajmata Amrita Roy are fighting TMC candidates Kirti Azad, Shatrughan Sinha and Mahua Moitra respectively. It may be noted that Ghosh was shifted from his Midnapore constituency to Bardhaman-Durgapur. The outgoing BJP MP Ahluwalia who is now contesting from Asansol against Shatrughan Sinha, managed to win by slender 3000 votes in 2019. It is likely to be a tough battle for Ghosh since post 2019 Lok Sabha loss TMC has won all assembly seats barring one in 2021. At Asansol seat, TMC MP’s candidate Shatrughan Sinha may have an edge even though it is the home ground of Ahluwalia. Incidentally, on polling day Rajmata’s body language was not that encouraging and she said that “politics is not her cup of tea”. Mahua Moitra is confident of winning by a lakh margin. It is a tough battle for former cricketer Yusuf Pathan fighting on a TMC ticket from Baharampur against Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Barrackpore, Hooghly, and Serampore Bongaon. Incumbent BJP MP former actor Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly faces her industry colleague Rachana Banerjee. TMC is keen to wrest back the seat. Similarly, both BJP and TMC are going all out to win the Matua community dominated seats of Bongaon and Barrackpore. Bongaon may be tough for TMC with incumbent BJP MP Shantanu Thakur, a representative of Matua Thakurbari, likely to win the Barrackpore seat. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has been tirelessly campaigning for Bongaon candidate Biswajit Das and Barrackpore’s Partha Bhowmick.
Mamata modi

In Bengal, All Eyes On Barrackpore As PM Modi And Didi Gear Up For A Showdown On May 12

Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat under North 24 Parganas has garnered much attention with both Trinamool Congress and BJP pressing their top leaders Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to campaign for their parties’ candidates. While BJP is fighting it out to retain the seat, TMC is desperate to gain it back since a major Assembly chunk under this LS seat belongs to TMC. The battle will be fought between TMC’s minister and Didi’s trusted lieutenant Partha Bhowmick and TMC turncoat Arjun Singh who jumped ship ahead of 2019 and 2024 Lok Sabha elections after being denied ticket by Didi. PM Modi will be holding his rally for Singh in Jagatdal at 11 am on Sunday ( May 12) Didi will hold hers at 2 pm at Shantinagar ground of Palta under Noapara Assembly, home turf of TMC. However, Mamata will be holding another rally on Monday (May 13) at Amdanga, another stronghold of TMC under Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. Incidentally, Amdanga Assembly seat belongs to TMC and has a majority of minority votes. Interestingly, this LS seat comprises seven Assembly seats of which six were won by TMC in 2021 Assembly polls. According to political analysts, Barrackpore which is a Hindi-speaking belt has an added advantage for Arjun Singh. On the other hand Bhowmick will have to rely majorly on the minority belts of Amdanga and part of Naihati, which he represents as an MLA. It may be noted that PM Modi campaigned for Singh during 2019 elections and latter enjoys a great rapport with Union home minister Amit Shah.
buddhadeb

Left Goes Hi-Tech In Bengal, Harnesses SRK's Influence And AI To Counter TMC & BJP

 Once known for its archaic outlook, CPI-M is going all out using an AI-generated video of ailing former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to usage of AI-generated news anchor and whistleblowing Bollywood dialogues to revive the Left Front’s fortunes in West Bengal in this Lok Sabha Election. But, can it counter Trinamool Congress and BJP’s political binary in the state? CPI-M recently created buzz with a teaser post “aei bhabe-o phire asha jay” (this way can also be returned) before releasing Bhattacharjee’s message urging voters to vote for the Left and secular forces. The video shows the former CM addressing a spectrum of concerns spanning from Sandeshkhali to unemployment and accusations of corruption in West Bengal, criticising the ruling TMC. The video also scrutinised the BJP-led Centre on demonetization, electoral bonds, and inflation by saying “Who is Narendra Modi? Who is Mamata Banerjee? Don’t give them a chance to ruin our country, our state.” Incidentally, questions have been raised about missing star campaigners. Countering it, Srijan Bhattacharya from Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency has garnered significant attention with his inverse statement of the famous SRK dialogue from Jawan — Bete ko haath lagane se pehle baap se baat kar to Baap ko haat lagane se pehle bete se baat karna parega. It may be noted that CPI-M since 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 State Assembly polls has failed to open any accounts. Though candidates such Bhattacharya, Saira Shah Halim from Kolkata South and Dipsita Dhar from Serampore are trying to revive the Left Front’s fortunes in Bengal. But, it certainly seems like an uphill task.
recruitment scam

Recruitment Scam Fallout: TMC, Opposition Face Electoral Backlash Over Job Cancellations

The Calcutta High Court judgement of nullifying the appointments of 25,000 teachers in the Teachers’ Recruitment Scam seems to have impacted the fortunes of the political parties particularly the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. It has dealt a severe blow to the credibility of TMC supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led government.  Not only has it tarnished the image of the Trinamool government but raised questions about its commitment to transparency and meritocracy. The party is now grappling with the fallout from the scam. The cancellation of such a large number of teaching jobs has not only sparked outrage among the affected candidates but has also fueled discontent among voters in Bengal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his rallies in Bengal on May 3, reassured the youth of Bengal that those responsible for their distress would face severe consequences. He encouraged the BJP Bengal to set up both a legal cell and a social media platform to support the victims of the scam. Incidentally, several people blamed the CPI-M’s Rajya Sabha MP and senior leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya as well as BJP for the verdict as their main aim was to gain power and not think about common people. The verdict’s implications extend beyond the immediate loss of jobs for thousands of aspiring teachers; it has become a focal point in the broader political contest for power and legitimacy.
Mahua Moitra_004

Can Mahua Moitra Retain Her Krishnanagar Seat Against BJP's Onslaught?

BJP, it seems, is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra who was expelled from the Parliament in a cash-for-query case loses her Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat. According to BJP sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to hold a rally at Krishnanagar on May 3 in favour of BJP candidate Amrita Roy, daughter-in-law from Krishnanagar Royal Family. Mahua Moitra who came into public glare for her fiery speeches and strong political stance has been a strong critic of the BJP-led Central government.  She has been going hammer and tongs over the Adani issue. When she was expelled from the Parliament, her future seemed a question mark but TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee went all out to back her by renominating her. Before Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was scheduled to address a gathering in Krishnanagar on April 30 but the meeting got canceled at the last moment. Interestingly, this constituency has several religious places like Shantipur, Nabadwip and Mayapur and it is easy for BJP to mobilise Hindu voters for public gathering. Besides, BJP is banking on the Matua and Namasudra community votes. Local BJP leaders admitted that there is a panic in these areas over NRC and if the PM can clear the doubts on this front in his speech it will help. Modi’s decision to personally campaign for the BJP candidate in Krishnanagar underscores the party’s determination to clinch victory and also an opportunity to embarrass Mahua vis a vis Didi. If Mahua wins and returns to Parliament then it could be a face loss for BJP. But June 4 will decide which way the wind is blowing.
Mamata_026

In Bengal, Didi Is Busy Trying To Get The ‘Muslim Math’ Right

In the run up to the Lok Sabha Election, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s absence from the major meeting of I.N.D.I.A. bloc is seen as her desperate attempt to continue consolidating her grip over the minority section that hold a chunk of her vote bank. The “Muslim math” continues to remain one of the significant vote shares eyed not only by ruling TMC but also Congress and CPI-M who are jointly opposing both TMC and BJP in Bengal. Sources within TMC admitted that with decline of political hold of Congress and CPI-M, Didi is now attempting to seize the bulk of minority vote share. Experts believe that one of the main reasons is that Mamata and her nephew Abhishek, are avoiding the large national gatherings of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc is because of their focus on the Muslim vote bank. Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, 14 to 15 seats have more than 30% Muslim population. Both CPI-M and TMC have a history of securing sizable Muslim votes. So too Congress which has always dominated Muslims belt like Murshidabad, Malda, and parts of Birbhum districts. Didi seems to be looking at the combination of an absolute consolidation of Muslim votes and an extra 10-12% of “anti-BJP” votes to win majority seats. Hence, for Didi, publicly shaking hands with the Congress may run the risk of confusing her supporters and hurting her party’s chances of winning.
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Didi Eyes Key Role If I.N.D.I.A Front Wins?

It is a big question mark but that does not preclude West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making it categorical that her party will be playing a significant role if I.N.D.I.A front is voted to power. In her recent poll campaigns, Didi dismissed the claims of NDA winning 400 plus Lok Sabha seats by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. She stated that the claims seemed to be a reflection of nervousness of both leaders. Expressing her assessment of the political landscape, Banerjee emphasized her belief in the resilience of Opposition parties against the ruling BJP. According to her calculations, Bengal goes to TMC, AAP will be the majority in Punjab, Samajwadi Party will garner maximum seats in Uttar Pradesh and DMK will clinch Tamil Nadu. Denying the claims of exiting the I.N.D.I.A front, Didi made it categorical that she’s the one who coined the alliance name. However, TMC supremo criticised the CPI-M and Congress alliance in the state in opposing TMC Is indirectly helping the BJP. Banerjee claimed that the alliance between the two opposition parties is splitting the anti-BJP vote, thereby benefiting the saffron camp. It is for this reason she did not attend several I.N.D.I.A. meetings but maintained relationships by sending her representatives. In her campaign speech, Didi has been driving home the point that if I.N.D.I.A front forms the government then they will do away/relook into NRC, Citizenship Amendment Act and Uniform Civil Code. The Alliance will repeal all discriminatory laws implemented by the BJP.
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BJP Vs TMC: The Battle for North Bengal Intensifies as Election Day Approaches

The battle for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is seeing intense and bitter battle between BJP and TMC in north Bengal’s six constituencies which go to poll on April 19 and April 26. The six constituencies are: Raiganj, Balurghat, Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won seven out of eight seats routing Trinamool Congress. However, TMC regained a significant portion of its lost political ground in the 2021 Assembly election and 2023 panchayat elections. BJP is fiercely contesting to retain its seats against TMC’s aggressive push via its social welfare schemes launched in the last two years. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee started campaigning for north Bengal on the same day on April 4.  In terms of ethnic support it seems mixed. Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha is endorsing the TMC candidate, but the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha led by Bimal Gurung is siding with the BJP. Despite the support of Gurung, BJP faces problems from within; Kurseong’s BJP MLA, Bishnu Prasad Sharma is contesting as an independent after being denied a Lok Sabha ticket. Situation also remains critical in Alipurduar, after BJP dropped its outgoing MP John Barla, citing poor performance, who remained conspicuous by his absence during Modi’s recent rallies. Once a bastion of Left Front ally Forward Bloc, Cooch Behar equations remain different — with Lok Sabha seat going to BJP. Similarly, the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association representing the Rajbanshi Community is supporting TMC.
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Clockwise L To R: Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari, Debasree Chowdhari and SS Ahluwalia

After Karnataka, BJP Cadres In West Bengal Protests Over Turncoats Being Given Lok Sabha Tickets

For a disciplined party this one certainly comes as a shock. A section of BJP cadres in West Bengal have launched “Save Bengal BJP” campaign by organising a rally to protest against turncoats being given Lok Sabha tickets. The criteria for getting a party ticket should be local representation and party loyalty. They feel outsiders are being accommodated while genuine party leaders are getting elbowed out. Interestingly the “BJP Bachao Manch” is canvassing to press the ‘NOTA’ button, expressing no confidence with BJP candidates. These vociferous cadres are also questioning the legitimacy and authority of its own leader — Suvendu Adhikari whose proposals have been considered by the Delhi High Command. Convenor of this committee Deepak Sarkar says, if chief ministers like Hemant Soren, Arvind Kejriwal are jailed then why Adhikari is being given a breather despite being named in several CBI and ED cases. They have also questioned why the high command has shifted Dilip Ghosh from Medinipur to Burdwan-Durgapur constituency, Debasree Chowdhari from Raiganj to South Kolkata. Besides, they have also objected to the candidatures of SS Ahluwalia from Asansol against Shatrughan Sinha and that of Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu nominated from Kanthi. The rebel cadres have made it categorically clear that they will not leave the party, instead, if necessary, they will field independent candidates in seats where original BJP leaders have been ignored. Hope Delhi high command is listening.
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Clockwise L To R: Soumendu Adhikari , Arjun Singh, Tapas Roy, & Mukut Mani Adhikari

Loyalty Passe: Political Parties Bet On Turncoats To Win Lok Sabha Polls

Loyalty is passe. A new trend is emerging that is seeing political parties betting on defectors and turncoats to win the elections. In West Bengal, both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Opposition BJP have given tickets to turncoats instead of party loyalists. For instance, out of its 42 candidates, TMC has fielded four turncoats who have either joined the party recently or are elected MPs/MLAs from rival parties. Besides, tickets have been given to three more who are either TMC MPs or MLAs with a history of switching sides.  Similarly, BJP out of the 40 seats announced, has given tickets to five turncoats from TMC.  Out of which three are MLAs and they are: Biswajit Das, Mukut Mani Adhikari and Krishna Kalyani. Others like actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, Sujata Mondal, Biplab Mitra and Abu Taher Khan quit BJP or Congress to join TMC. Similarly, incumbent MP of Barrackpore Arjun Singh who was with TMC earlier had defected to BJP and won 2019 election. But soon went back to TMC as he was sidelined by the saffron camp. Interestingly, he has again gone to BJP as TMC denied him the ticket. Ditto: MLA Tapas Roy. He quit TMC after having a fallout with Didi’s close aide Sudip Banerjee. Roy now challenges Banerjee from Kolkata North LS seat. The decisions taken by the political parties to accommodate turncoats have not gone down well with party cadres and loyalists; it has incited unrest and animosity. Many loyalists say they will not campaign for such turncoats with the same fervour they did once upon a time. The parties in turn have justified their decisions by stating they gave weightage to a candidate’s “winnability”. Seems like a short sighted strategy.
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TMC Mocks BJP For Not Naming Candidates Against Abhishek Banerjee & Shatrughan Sinha

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC) is mocking BJP for its failure to announce candidates for two prestigious constituencies Diamond Harbour and Asansol even after 26 days of announcement of candidates by the ruling TMC.  Two time MP Abhishek Banerjee, second in command of TMC and nephew of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, has been challenging the BJP to field its Opposition party leader Suvendu Adhikari against him. Some of the names doing rounds were that of advocate Kaustav Bagchi, Priyanka Tibrewal and Abhijit Das. It seems BJP was waiting for Opposition parties to announce its candidature. Now, it is public that Congress and CPI-M ally ISF leader Nausad Siddique’s will contest from Diamond Harbour. BJP state leadership is also waiting for the first phase of election to get over as state BJP president Sukanta Mujumder is contesting from his Balurghat seat which is being challenged by TMC’s sitting MLA and minister Biplab Mitra. Also, BJP is not in a hurry to name its candidate for Diamond Harbour as it goes to poll in the last phase. Similarly, despite announcing names of 40 candidates in three separate lists, the BJP high command is yet to give name for Asansol seat, where TMC once again fielded veteran actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who had won the bypoll election in 2022. According to BJP sources, names that are doing rounds are that of Surendra Singh Ahluwalia, former minister and outgoing MP from Burdwan-Durgapur constituency and Jitendra Tiwari Ex-TMC, former mayor of Asansol and Ex-MLA.
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Dilip Ghosh (L) and Agnimitra Pal

Shuffling Of BJP Candidates In West Bengal Hints At Infighting Within Local Unit

The BJP high command announced the candidate’s list for the Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in three phases. The list came as a shock to BJP cadres and gave opportunity to Trinamool Congress, Congress and Left parties to tom-tom that Bengal BJP is battling intense infighting. Incidentally, former State BJP President Dilip Ghosh who is the outgoing MP from Medinipur has been shifted to contest from Burdwan-Durgapur constituency replacing incumbent MP Surendra Singh Ahluwalia, who has been denied ticket till now. Instead BJP’s Asansol South MLA Agnimitra Pal will contest from Medinipur. In 2019 Agnimitra lost the Asansol LS seat to TMC’s actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha. Similarly, former Union minister and outgoing Raiganj MP, Debashree Chaudhury has been shifted to Kolkata South seat, which is a home turf of the ruling TMC. Further, Haringhata MLA Asim Sarkar has been fielded by BJP from Burdwan East constituency and Bangaon South MLA Swapan Majumder has been given ticket by the party from Barasat Lok Sabha constituency. A section of BJP cadres said that this is to contain factional conflicts that have erupted in the districts. Analysts say this shuffling is being done to negate the possibility of negative sentiment against outgoing MPs not delivering on their promises. However, BJP leaders are openly dismissing this argument. According to them, the Lok Sabha elections will be fought in the name of Brand Modi. People will evaluate the work of the Modi government and vote accordingly.
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Has Election Fever Divided Tollywood Over Film Releases?

The election fever seems to have divided Tollywood over movie release dates. The next 60 days will see intense polling activities across West Bengal but some of the Tollywood producers-directors are not worried about it; they feel it will not affect the footfalls. The much-awaited Bengali film Mirza by Ankush Hazra of one of the top mainstream actors will stick to its pre-declared Eid release date of April 10. Ankush pointed out that the film gets 10 days before the first phase of the election which starts on April 19. He further added that the response to the film will be known in the first week itself hence polling will not affect the release. Echoing similar views, director duo Shiboprasad Mukherjee-Nandita Roy’s new venture Amar Boss which will see the comeback of veteran actress Raakhee Gulzar in Bengali after almost 20 years. Shibu is targeting the month of May for the release. The confident director mentioned that his previous releases such as Ramdhanu was released during 2014 polls and Kantha in 2019 elections and both were superhits hence he sees no reason to fear. National-award winning director Srijit Mukherji’s much awaited movie Padatik, a tribute to masterclass director Mrinal Sen on his birth centenary is slated to release on May 14. Producer Firdousul Hasan is unwilling to back down with the release date since maximum moviegoers are not workers from political parties. But some are not taking chances. Like Superstar Jeet, his movie Boomerang’s release has been pushed from May to June 7 release. Similarly, actor director Arna Mukhopadhyay’s movie Athoi has shifted the release from April to June.
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All’s Not Well in Left Front As Allied Parties Question CPI-M’s Keenness To Accommodate Congress

Bengal CPI-M found itself on a sticky ground after the allies of Left Front– Forward Bloc, CPI and RSP gave an ultimatum to announce the candidate list in 42 Lok Sabha seats. Chairman of Left Front Biman Bose announced the first list of candidates for 16 seats — three seats for the allied parties respectively and 13 for CPI-M on March 14, after being given a deadline of 24 hours by the allies a couple of days ago. The situation turned extremely volatile when Left Front allies questioned CPI-M’s alliance talks with Congress. Left Front sources confirmed that even during the internal discussion of announcing the names, these three smaller parties declined CPI-M’s offer of exchanging seats so that they could leave room for Congress and ISF. Interestingly, sources claimed that CPI was offered to exchange its usual Basirhat seat with some other seat in South Bengal. However, a senior CPI leader said this is a heritage seat since the party’s stalwarts like Indrajit Gupta, Ajoy Chakraborty used to contest from these seats. Similarly, Forward Bloc has made it categorical that it will continue to contest from its usual seats of Cooch Behar, Purulia and Barasat. Meanwhile, Congress has informed CPI-M that it will contest the Purulia seat. Meanwhile, CPI-M’s State Secretary Mohammad Salim accepted that it’s the responsibility of his party to take the Left Front and Left Unity forward and keep it intact.
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TMC’s List Of 42 Candidates: Has Didi Pulled Off An Ace?

With the Trinamool Congress deciding to contest the upcoming general elections solo in West Bengal speculations are rife whether party supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee pulled off an ace. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Didi’s party for the first time won 34 seats but received a severe jolt in 2019 where TMC managed to secure only 22 seats and BJP gained 18 seats. Notably, in 2019, neither was the TMC in the state weighed down by anti-incumbency nor were its mountain of woes this high including the charges of corruption against several of its heavyweight ministers and leaders, and the Sandeshkhali controversy. Interestingly, it pulled a surprise by fielding cricketer Yusuf Pathan from Baharampur against Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Tollywood actor Rachana Banerjee from Hooghly against BJP’s incumbent MP, actor-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee. Tollywood stars turned politicians June Maliah and Saayoni Ghosh made it to the list owing to their contribution in the party. Didi not only gave tickets to her close and veterans of the party, she also retained Mahua Moitra from Krishnanagar and Superstar Dev from Ghatal. But she did drop five sitting MPs including non-performers such as Nusrat Khan, Mimi Chakraborty, and Aparupa Poddar along with ailing Choudhury Mohan Jatua and turncoat Arjun Singh. Significantly, ex-bureaucrat Gopal Lama, former IG Prasun Banerjee, youth leader of North Bengal Prakash Chik Baraik have been given tickets from seats in North Bengal where TMC is yet to make a breakthrough. Furthermore, six ex-BJP leaders — Mukut Mani Adhikari, Biswajit Das, Biplab Maitra, Krishna Kalyani, Kirti Azad and Shatrughan Sinha made it to the list.
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BJP Cadres In Bengal Question Modi-Mamata Meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was in Bengal to start his unofficial poll campaign met his political rival – West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee at Raj Bhavan.  Since then, state BJP unit has been trying to address queries from party cadres about this bonhomie. Significantly Mamata after the meeting said that both of them discussed several things which are not related to politics. Likewise even Modi said the same thing  to the senior state leaders like Sukanta Majumder and Suvendu Adhikari. Furthermore, Modi did not meet any of the party leaders during his stay at Raj Bhavan this time. Incidentally, the theory of “Modi-Didi setting” is doing the rounds not only among the Left parties but even among the grassroots cadres of the BJP. Party insiders said that the state leadership is faced with uncomfortable questions such as why the PM never criticized Didi’s nephew and party’s second-in- command Abhishek Banerjee during these rallies. It may be recalled that during Modi’s earlier rallies ahead of the State Assembly election, he was quite outspoken and had taunted Bua-Bhatija governance style. Political observers say that Modi’s speeches had a conscious effort of not going on a personal attack on Didi, since it went against the BJP during 2021 State Assembly polls. It may be recalled that PM’s “Didi-O-Didi” jibes during his political rallies did not seem to go well with average Bengali voters.
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Sandeshkhali Aftermath: Trinamool-BJP Go All Out To Woo Women Voters

In West Bengal BJP seems to be going all out to capitalise the Sandeshkhali controversy to the hilt. Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public rally in Bengal recently, minced no words to target Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee over exploitation of women by TMC leaders. He termed Sandeshkhali controversy as ‘jhor’ (storm) that will reach every part of West Bengal, accusing the TMC government of protecting criminals and trusting its own leaders over the testimonies of oppressed women. Later PM Modi met some women from Sandeshkhali. Not one to take it lying down, Didi countered it with a massive march themed, Mahilader Adhikar, Amader Angikar (women’s rights, our commitment) on the eve of International Women’s Day. Mamata charged BJP with turning a blind eye on women atrocities in Manipur and other places. Interestingly, some of the women from Sandeshkhali who were present at Didi’s rally claimed that the villagers had regained their land as a result of “Didi’s” stern and prompt actions. Significantly, in the West Bengal assembly elections of 2021, approximately half of the female voters cast their ballots in favor of the TMC, whereas 37% supported the BJP. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP received 38% of the female vote share, while the TMC garnered 47%. TMC has taken several initiatives like Kanyashri, Rupashree, and Lakshmir Bhandar focussing on women empowerment. Political analysts pointed out that in 2021, the two Ms — Muslims and Mahila helped Trinamool win hands down and keep BJP at bay.
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Internal Fighting In Trinamool Congress To Impact Its Lok Sabha Performance?

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has been experiencing internal tensions and factional feuds, which could potentially impact its performance in the upcoming Lok Sabha Election. Though TMC failed to stop its veteran leader and MLA Tapas Roy from resigning as legislator and quit the party, it managed to heal the rift between party spokesperson leader Kunal Ghosh and veteran leader and Kolkata North MP Sudip Banerjee. However, insiders of the party and close aides of Roy have confirmed that former poll strategist and Jan Suraj party leader Prasant Kishor (PK) personally called Roy following his resignation from the party and asked him not to join any party in a hurry. Kunal Ghosh met Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay at his residence in presence of local councillors to resolve the issues. Both Ghosh and Roy had been vocal against Bandyopadhyay on several occasions. Interestingly, despite being close to party’s supremo Mamata Banerjee, Roy has been supporting Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s idea of a new guard. It may be noted that Didi had always utilised Roy’s organisational capabilities rather than inducting him in her cabinet. Post his resignation, speculations of Roy joining BJP are rife within the political circuit. Party insiders said that PK, despite not officially functioning as poll strategist, continues to advise Didi. Many are also saying that Bandyopadhyay was advised by PK to invite Ghosh at his residence to resolve the matter, since Kolkata North is a potential seat of the ruling TMC.
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Is Trinamool’s Mega Rally At Brigade Ground A Counter To PM Modi’s Bengal Visit?

Amid major political backlash due to the Sandeshkhali controversy, ruling Trinamool Congress will be holding its third Mega Rally named as Janagarjan Sabha at the historic Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata on March 10. Chief minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee will address the rally, which is seen as her official poll bugle for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Second in command of the party and Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee will also address the gathering. Party insiders pointed out that both the leaders will mainly highlight the issues of pending central dues to the state government under various central-sponsored schemes with a focus on the 100-day job scheme under MGNREGA and the housing scheme under PMAY. It may be recalled that before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, TMC brought all the Opposition parties including Congress under the banner — United Front at a similar mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground to counter Narendra Modi-led BJP. However, the rally did not yield results, rather failed to stop the BJP’s clear sweep. This time TMC has made it clear that every district and block unit must ensure packed houses instead of displaying their personal stature. According to political analysts, Didi finds herself on a sticky ground over the ongoing Sandeshkhali controversy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll campaigns slated during the first week of March, where in all probability he will address a rally in North 24 Parganas district and also meet local women allegedly victims of sexual harassment and violence by TMC’s strongman Sheikh Shajahan.
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Has Didi Softened Her Stance On Seat-Sharing With Congress?

After striking a deal with the Samajwadi Party and AAP over seat sharing for the state of Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi, Congress High Command is once again in talks with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on seat-sharing. Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh has said that the party is hopeful that I.N.D.I.A Bloc will fight the BJP unitedly. Sources said that a new proposal has been formulated for seat sharing with TMC. Insiders of Congress say that Congress is seeking 6 out of 42 seats in Bengal including its own seats of Baharampur and Maldah Dakshin. In exchange for this Congress is willing to offer TMC seats in other states. Apparently, discussions are on with TMC over the seats of Maldah Uttar, Raiganj and Darjeeling constituencies, plus one more. In lieu of this it will leave two seats for TMC in Assam and one in Meghalaya. Although there’s no confirmation from the TMC, sources said that Didi has softened her previous stance where she was categorical that her party would go alone in Bengal since the Congress is in talks with the Left. Congress insiders further said that it will ask NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to convince Didi on the same. Meanwhile, political observers viewed that this might make Mamata rethink since seat sharing in other states with Congress might help TMC gain the national party recognition.
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BJP Bengal Get In Election Mode, PM To Address Series Of Rallies

In an attempt to go all out on the target of gaining 35 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit West Bengal to kick off the 2024 Lok Sabha Election campaign. He will be addressing a rally at Arambagh in Hooghly district on March 1. Arambagh is BJP’s stronghold but it lost the seat in 2019 to TMC’s Aparupa Poddar. Notable, the Hooghly seat is held by BJP MP Locket Chatterjee. Followed by Arambagh, the PM is likely to hold a rally in Krishnanagar on March 2 which was helmed by TMC MP Mahua Moitra before being expelled from Parliament over ‘cash-for-query’ case. While BJP has been accused of vendetta politics in the removal of Moitra from Parliament, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has already announced her re-nomination for this seat. Modi’s last meeting in this first leg of campaigning is likely to be held at Barasat, on one of TMC’s strongest turf in South Bengal on March 6. Significantly, Didi has begun a series of district-to-district tours announcing a slew of projects. Meanwhile, BJP insiders said that the meeting at Kachhari Maidan in Barasat on March 6, Modi is likely to meet the ‘victims’ of Sandeshkhali. They are likely to be brought from Sandeshkhali under the leadership of BJP state president Sukanta Majumder. Political observers said that since the state BJP has not succeeded in countering Didi, bringing Modi from the beginning of the poll campaign is nothing but a clear attempt of challenging the ruling party ahead of the polls.
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Anurag Kashyap Critical Of Falling Standards Of Bengali Cinema Content

Indian arthouse filmmaker Anurag Kashyap criticised present-day Bengali cinema content citing that remakes of South Indian movies led to this downfall. In a one-on-one conversation with Kashyap during the inauguration of maiden French Film Festival in Kolkata and screening of his movie Kennedy, he was categorical in stating that Bengali content doesn’t attract him anymore. His last watched Bengali movie remains cerebral filmmaker Mrinal Sen’s Padatik. According to him, deterioration in Bollywood is not as evident as in Bengali cinema since it used to be class apart because of the maestros like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwick Ghatak. Kashyap mentioned that he could only recollect quality work from Bengali filmmaker Srijit Mukherji’s Autograph and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Antaheen which was essayed by actor Radhika Apte and Rahul Bose. Talking about the ongoing controversy of director Sandeep Vanga Reddy’s film Animal, Kashyap mentioned misogynistic themes, and glorification of toxic masculinity had always been there in Bollywood — but viewers were less aware. Commenting on being targeted by a section of film as well as the political sphere for his provocative works, Kashyap said that everyone in today’s world is provoking in some way or other including the media. Citing the example of Ray who was targeted as selling poverty like porn in his films, he added that it does not affect him anymore.
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Will Sandeshkhali Incident Hurt TMC’s Lok Sabha Numbers?

The idyllic village of Sandeshkhali in West Bengal has been in the news recently due to demonstrations by several women who claim that Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shajahan Sheikh and his associates had grabbed their land and sexually assaulted several. Shajahan notoriety came to the fore following his followers attacking Enforcement Directorate officers who had gone to raid his property on January 5 in connection to a ration scam. With Lok Sabha Elections around the corner, Opposition leaders claim they were denied permission to visit Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district, later getting permission from the court. However, TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee refuted these accusations blaming the BJP and RSS by terming it as a sinister design at play. Didi even promised to send her officials to clear the dues of the locals and set up special police teams to address any criminal issues. Incidentally, Sandeshkhali falls under Basirhat Lok Sabha seat which is predominantly a Muslim belt and Nusrat Jahan is the outgoing MP. It may be recalled that Mamata gained maximum votes from women through her pro-women policies and benefits. Political analysts are citing this as a massive personal betrayal along with a political controversy. This is all because Didi’s image as the supporter of the oppressed and women is fundamentally threatened by this controversy. Many also view that Shahjahan’s arrest can open up a can of worms and lead to an anti-Didi movement just like the Nandigram and Singur which overthrew the Left-led government.
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Didi Goes All Out To Retain Tollywood Superstar Dev, TMC’s Biggest Face

Trinamool Congress (TMC) found itself on sticky ground when its biggest star face MP Dev made a swan song at the last day of Parliament session. Prior to that this Tollywood superstar and two-time MP from Ghatal seat resigned from three crucial government-nominated positions, the move coming at a time when there are talks within TMC that party supremo Mamata Banerjee is keen to renominate him from his parliamentary constituency. Party insiders pointed out that Dev had been disillusioned by the allegation of misappropriation of money in his name by a section of district unit, besides his long standing differences with Sankar Dalui, a MLA of Ghatal. Soon, both Didi and party’s second-in-command Abhishek Banerjee met Dev to discuss the issue and removed Dalui from the post of district unit head. Post that Dev made a cryptic statement stating that he might want to leave politics but politics would never leave him. Officially Dev stated that it is important for him to work towards Ghatal’s Master plan which is to put an end to the recurring problem of flooding in Ghatal during monsoon. Didi promised that her government will fund the Ghatal Masterplan. It may be noted that Ghatal is under Pashchim Medinipur district which is the home turf of Opposition BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. Incidentally, in 2019, Dev defeated once close aide of Didi and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh by over seven lakh margin. All seats of both Purba and Pashchim Medinipur districts are matters of prestige for the TMC as Adhikari is leaving no stones unturned to capture these seats.
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Didi Vs Nephew: Power Struggle In TMC?

Speculations are rife that the relationship between the party supremo Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and party’s general secretary, the perceived heir apparent, Abhishek Banerjee has hit rock bottom. For the past several weeks, Abhishek not only maintained a low profile, but also limited his activities to his own constituency, Diamond Harbour. He was last seen along with Didi during her ‘Sanhati Yatra’ on the day of the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony, but was conspicuous by his absence from the recent dharna by Didi against the Centre’s denial of funds to the state. However, Abhishek breaking his silence said that he is awaiting Didi’s directive to take up party work outside his constituency. He even cited that his “Nabo Jowar Yatra” ahead of the panchayat election in 2023, was under the directive of the party supremo. Although terming it to be normal, he admitted to differences (read not rift) with Mamata over certain issues such as the age of retirement of party leaders. He further made it categorical that he has no aspirations of getting into administration such as the post of chief minister of Bengal or that of Central Ministry. Political observers say that if there was a rift, Didi would not have remained silent; she would have taken strong measures like dismissing Abhishek. Mamata seems to be siding with the experienced leaders, but by not taking any action against Abhishek, she is also indicating that he has authority over the group.
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Congress, CPI (M) Join Hands In West Bengal To Contest Lok Sabha Polls

Congress and CPI(M) seems to have once again struck a chord with each other after West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee made it categorical that her party will contest the Lok Sabha elections in all constituencies in the state. Interestingly, Congress scion and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi who was in Bengal with his Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra found support from CPI(M) at a time when Didi expressed her displeasure that she remained uninformed about Gandhi’s programme in her state. Senior CPI(M) leaders including state secretary Mohammad Salim, state committee member Sujan Chakraborty met Rahul during his tour in Murshidabad. Significantly, the Left leaders not only joined Rahul but also held a closed-door meeting, where Salim has been categorical in stating that they are in support of Rahul’s programme. Congress sources confirmed that Pradesh Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has been behind this meeting since Adhir is known to be a close-aide of Rahul. Following this meeting, the Congress has once again shown its trust in Adhir by appointing him as chairman of the party’s Pradesh Election Committee.  The 24-member committee includes ex-MP Pradip Bhattacharya, CWC member Deepa Dasmunsi, DP Roy and others. Further, Bengal Congress chief has not lost a Lok Sabha election since 1999 and will be able to negotiate seat-sharing talks with CPI(M) since the TMC has blamed him for the seat-sharing debacle in the state.
CPI(M)

CPI (M) To Play Safe In West Bengal, May Contest Few Lok Sabha Seats In 2024

The CPI(M) which has been out of power for over a decade in West Bengal and reduced to zero seats in both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly, is contemplating contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha election only in constituencies where it feels confident of doing well. In other words, it will contest only from a few constituencies. According to CPI(M) sources, the Left party is keen on contesting from Murshidabad, Maldah North, Krishnanagar, and Raiganj. There were also talks that if the tripartite alliance with Congress and ISF works out it would give up seats like Diamond Harbour, Uluberia, and Sreerampore to ISF and the Basirhat seat to sole ISF MLA Naushad Siddiqui, if its partner CPI agrees. Interestingly, CPI(M) is optimistic about the Krishnanagar seat owing to its vote percentage in the 2021 State Assembly election and 2022 panchayat poll. The party’s vote percentage was more than 30% in several areas including Nakashipara, Palashipara, Tehatta and Krishnanagar, won by TMC’s Mahua Moitra in 2019. It may be noted that CPI(M)’s last representation in Lok Sabha was in 2014 where two seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad were won by Mohammad Salim and Badruddoza Khan respectively. But, in 2019, Congress refused to let go of these two seats thus helping TMC to gain Murshidabad seat and Raiganj to BJP.  However, Congress blamed CPI(M) for announcing the candidate list unilaterally which led to the calling of the alliance. However, the CPM state secretariat is still not sure what will be the final understanding with the Congress.
bengali films

Now, Bengali Filmmakers Eye Pan-India Market Via Dubbed Versions

Bengali filmmakers have begun dubbing their movies in other languages to reach the pan-India audience. By dubbing their films, Bengali filmmakers are able to break the language barrier and appeal to moviegoers who may not understand Bengali but are interested in the content and storytelling. Interestingly, Tollywood superstar turned producer Jeet Madnani began by breaking into the pan-India mould by releasing his movies in Hindi too. His first one was the blockbuster commercial flick Chengiz. Jeet feels that not only as an actor but as a producer he must take Bengali cinema to a whole new level making it the next big film industry like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. His recent release an action drama Manush: Child of Destiny was dubbed in Hindi. Not only Jeet, Superstar Dev, one of the most successful actor-producers, released the biopic on Freedom Fighter Bagha Jatin in Bengali and Hindi. But the most talked about attempt has been from director-duo Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee whose Raktabeej became the first Bengali film to be released in four languages — Bengali, Assamese, Hindi and Oriya. Shibu, as commonly called, feels that these eastern regions have a good market for Bengali films since many Bengalis hail from these states too and those natives do have keen interest in Bengali content. POWERED BY:  IDFC FIRST BANK
mamata_019

Didi’s Solidarity Rally On Ram Mandir Inauguration Day

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee leaves no stone unturned to play the secular card. On January 22 — the Ram Mandir inauguration day — Didi has organised Sarba Dharm Yatra which will show her visiting Mandir, Masjid, Girja in Kolkata to establish her secular identity. Didi’s whose residence is near one of the renowned Kali Temple of Kalighat will be offering her prayers and then join the procession to convey the message of all-religion harmony. Her next stop will be at a mosque in Ballygunge, where she will be offering “chadar”. Following which Didi will light candles at a Church in Park Circus where a stage will be set up for the Peace and Harmony rally. According to Trinamool sources, no politician will be on that stage, instead representatives of all religions including Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Muslims will be present. Besides them only Mamata will be addressing the crowd on that day. It may be noted that the Bengal CM was invited by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for the inaugural function, which she declined citing that it to be a political gimmick by the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha Election 2024. Incidentally, Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari moved the court to stop Mamata’s solidarity march, but was declined by Calcutta High Court.
Mohammed Salim

CPI (M) Keen To Forge Alliance With Cong In Bengal, But Is GoP Ready?

The CPI(M) in West Bengal has largely voted in favour of an alliance with the Congress but with a rider. The heavyweights at Bengal headquarters in Alimuddin Street have made it categorical that the Congress will have to make its position clear on alliance for 2024 general election since the Congress high command seems to be in favour of alliance with Trinamool Congress. According to sources, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim has explained to the party’s rank and file that it will keep fighting BJP and Trinamool in the state. Significantly, Salim has also made it categorical that if Congress manages an alliance with the Trinamool and at the same time look for holding hands with CPI(M), the Left will come out of such a tripartite alliance. The state secretary of CPI(M) has made it clear that there will be no ‘reconciliation’ with the Trinamool. According to political analysts, CPI(M) decision of going alone in Bengal is mainly because of the results of panchayat elections and last year’s civic polls which shows that the combined vote share of the Left, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front – which stood at a meagre 10% in the 2021 assembly election – has crossed the 20% mark in the panchayat election. Interestingly, CPI(M)’s share of vote percentage has gone up from 6% to 14% in comparison to 2018’s panchayat elections.
Rudi Papiya

BJP Emulates TMC & CPI (M), Turns To Tollywood To Spread Party’s Vision Ahead Of Lok Sabha Polls

Walking the same path of the CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bengal BJP, has created a new cell, ‘Cultural Promotion’ within the Election Management Committee to promote its ideologies and visions. It may be noted that CPI(M)’s Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), the cultural wing, has always been used in election campaigns. Ditto TMC. Incidentally, BJP’s Cultural Promotional Wing will be having two divisions namely ‘Loksanskrit Dal’ and ‘Path Natak’ to be handled by actors Papiya Adhikary and Rudranil Ghosh respectively. Papiya’s association with films and commercial theatres (jatras) will be catering to BJP’s needs. Moreover her dance group ‘Mukti’ mainly stages programmes which will help BJP to spread its political messages. However, Papiya refused to give any details about the arrangement but admitted to having been present during the recent BJP’s election management committee meeting. Even Rudranil unwilling to speak about the development, but is learnt that he directed the theme song that the state BJP made ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s meeting in Kolkata. BJP sources said that this time, the BJP wants him to set up small street drama groups all over the state and stage dramas as part of Lok Sabha election campaign. It may be recalled that both Papiya and Rudranil joined the BJP before the last assembly elections where Papiya contested from Uluberia South in Howrah and Rudranil from Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata, which neither could win.
hrishit mansi

Two Students Develop App To Help School-Level Pupils Be College Ready

Two 16-year-old school students, Hrishit Deb of K.R. Mangalam World School, GK-II, New Delhi and Sri Mansi Katuri from Emerson High School, McKinney, Texas, US have developed an app that offers career counselling. Called Kwicon, this app is aimed at empowering students with transformative education, practical experience, mentorship, and networking for personal and professional growth. This app was among top 400 innovations presented at the prestigious ATL Marathon 2022-23 which is Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission. Significantly, Hrishit pointed out that with Class 10-12 board examinations due in a month, students undergo stress and concerns about the fact that if they can’t get the desired marks what will be their career options. There are an increased number of mental health cases post examinations. A recent survey across schools in India says that a whopping 80% of students are clueless about what they need to do after the board examination.  Only 15% of students between Class 9 and Class 12 are sure of what courses to pursue. The survey also revealed that only 50% of parents have clarity about their children’s career path. Kwicon app allows students and alumni to connect based on shared interests, majors, and career goals.
jarvis

BJP Appoints Prive Election Strategist In West Bengal For 2024 Lok Sabha Election

Amid growing differences between the senior bloc and the new bloc of state BJP and several lobbies of the top functionaries of the Bengal unit, the Central BJP unit has decided to work with a private political consulting agency for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Jarvis Technology & Strategy Consulting has been appointed to counter ruling Trinamool Congress’ political strategist the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), created by Prashant Kishor. Party sources said that there won’t be any conflicts in the functioning of the agency and the BJP state unit. While the party’s state leadership will handle political campaigns and grassroots outreach initiatives, the agency will carry out on-the-ground and backup research to provide information to the state leadership which can enable political tactics for the state unit. Interestingly, State BJP president, Sukanta Majumdar hasn’t acknowledged or refuted the development, though asserting that election strategies are private and internal affairs. Meanwhile, party insiders said that as per initial plans, the consulting agency will operate not only from Kolkata but will set up camp offices in different districts of the state as well. Incidentally, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National President JP Nadda who recently visited Kolkata made it categorical to the state unit that they will have to frame their strategies and policies to target 35 LS seat-win in 2024. Further, they must intensify social media campaigns from now on.
Mamata_018

Will Age Be The Deciding Factor To Distribute Lok Sabha Ticket In Trinamool?

At a time when Trinamool Congress (TMC) is rife with the debate of old guard vs new guard, there is a strong vibe of tickets being distributed on the basis of age. Party’s second in command Abhishek Banerjee has been pushing for 65 years as the upper limit of age for contesting a poll and holding party post. However, Didi thinks otherwise where in her words, “The age is in mind, and as long as you can serve people you need to continue.” Interestingly, if Abhishek’s theory is to be considered then at present out of 23 MPs, 10 MPs are above the age bracket. They are: Sudip Banerjee (71), Sougata Roy (77), Shatrughan Sinha (77), Mala Roy (66) and Kakali Ghosh (65). Besides age there are other exclusion criteria. For instance, TMC MP Sisir Adhikari, father of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari may be replaced. Significantly, if TMC goes by age criterion then it will have to bring 29 new faces out of 42 seats that they would be contesting in 2024 polls. Besides, party sources indicated that TMC may field in the seats they lost in 2019 Lok Sabha election. Incidentally, the TMC’s candidate list in 2019 polls was a mixed bag comprising stars, youth, seniors, women and backward. They helped the party. So one has to wait-and-watch who has their way –Didi or nephew.
Gita chant

The Print

BJP Cadres Disappointed As PM Modi Not To Attend Bhagavad Gita Mass Recitation Event In Kolkata

In a major blow to the organisers of the ‘Ek Lokho Konthe Gita Path’ (Gita Chant in Lakh Voices) event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly not attending the Brigade Parade Ground event in Kolkata on December 24 because of a government programme. PM Modi was supposed to recite the Gita with Shankaracharya Sadanand Saraswati. Besides Modi not attending, the organiser has yet to get confirmation from the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. In a show of strength for the past three months, Bengal BJP went ahead with the plan keeping PM Modi at the forefront. It is learnt that not only the Sanatanis but also BJP workers and functionaries are hugely disappointed with this development. Meanwhile, Assembly Opposition Leader Suvendu Adhikari and BJP State President Sukanta Majumdar convened an emergency meeting after being informed by the PMO about the PM’s absence. Party sources said that frustration is evident among the workers as the city has witnessed extensive displays of banners and posters featuring the Prime Minister announcing his presence at the programme. It is also learnt that around 3,500 sants (sadhus) will be coming for the event and over 55,000 Bengali translations and 34,000 Hindi copies of the Bhagavad Gita have been sold in the last 10 days.
Mamata_Abhishek

Trinamool Leaders Coin New Line To Keep ‘Old Guard Vs New' Rift At Bay

For several days, the issue of the age of political leadership rocked Trinamool Congress. The party which is reportedly divided between Mamata front and Abhishek front found a smart way to move an end to this discussion. During the foundation day celebration of the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress senior Trinamool leader and MP, Sudip Banerjee said that the senior leadership feels that the party must address workers as “Under the leadership of Mamata and commandership of Abhishek.” Echoing similar lines, veteran TMC leader and minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay has observed that he would rather like to portray Mamata as the driving force behind the party and Abhishek as the emerging leader of the party. Incidentally, Didi recently during a party programme made it clear that the ‘new’ has to pay respect to the ‘old’ and the ‘old’ has to bring the ‘new’ closer. Significantly, post this unexpected debate, Abhishek for the first time stated that party workers need to derive inspiration from veterans and yet it’s important to consider work efficiency and productivity after a certain age hence there should be a retirement age in politics. Incidentally, 10 out 23 of its Lok Sabha MPs are aged over 65 years, with many party seniors feeling the heat of their age as contestants in next year’s Lok Sabha polls swirl through the party ranks.
Opposition meet bengaluru

Will State Poll Defeat Make “Flexible Congress” Take Backseat In Seat Sharing Talks?

The Congress debacle in Hindi heartland in the recently held assembly polls puts it at a disadvantage to negotiate seat sharing for the 2024 general elections. According to sources, the Congress leadership has started preliminary talks with the leaders of several regional parties on seat settlement. Regional parties in I.N.D.I.A are in an ‘advantageous’ position with Congress losing three states. Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar have got the opportunity to put Congress ‘under pressure’. Amid allegations of being a dictator in the coalition front, Congress felt the heat after several regional party heads Mamata, Akhilesh, Nitish saying “no” to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s hasty calling of the I.N.D.I.A. meeting. According to Delhi Congress sources, Rahul Gandhi has already held initial discussions with Mamata about seat sharing. It may be noted that Trinamool Congress has agreed to allot three seats out of 42 seats to Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. Two of the three constituencies are Adhir Chowdhury’s Baharampur and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury’s Maldah South. The third constituency is the late Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi constituency — Raiganj in North Bengal. The agreement on these three seats is considered to be virtually final. Mamata who will be in Delhi on December 18, will attend the I.N.D.I.A. meeting which is called mainly for the seat sharing agreement between the alliance partners in the state.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.