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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.
Collage Maker-30-Dec-2022-04

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.
Collage Maker-15-Dec-2022-04

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.
Collage Maker-31-Oct-2022-12

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.
Collage Maker-29-Sep-2022-12

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.
Collage Maker-28-Sep-2022-12

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?
Collage Maker-17-Sep-2022-02

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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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Dilip Ghosh and Sukanta Majumdar

BJP High Command Cuts Rebel Leaders In Bengal Unit To Size, Keeps Them Out Of Panchayat Polls Core Committee

Nothing seems to work for the Bengal BJP at present. While Trinamool Congress manages to make a significant dent in North Bengal by gaining the maximum number of panchayat and gram panchayat boards under Siliguri division, the Bengal BJP is grappling with internal feuds. Taking cognizance of this, the central BJP leadership has sent out a strong message to the leaders who have been vocal against the present state leadership. Towards this it has excluded Dilip Ghosh, former state president and MP from Medinipur, and Locket Chatterjee, MP from Hooghly, from the panchayat coordination committee. Instead, Debasree Chaudhuri, MP from Raiganj, has been given the charge. Interestingly, Ghosh had spearheaded the 2018 panchayat polls which helped BJP to make inroads and become West Bengal’s principal opposition party. Similarly, Locket who was in charge of the committee set up to celebrate the Modi Government’s 8th Anniversary celebration, also failed to be a part of the Panchayat Committee. Insiders said both Ghosh and Chatterjee had been voicing their dissent against the current president Dr Sukanta Majumder. Debasree is known to be close to Majumder.  When asked why Ghosh has been excluded from the committee, BJP says Ghosh is one of the members of the National Working Committee. But so is Debasree. Locket’s exclusion is understandable as she continues to show her allegiance to the former state president.

Didi Leaves Nothing To Chance, Hits Campaign Trail For 2023 Panchayat Polls

Looks like Trinamool Congress Supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking no chance as far as elections in her state are concerned. Panchayat polls are in 2023 but Didi is already in an election mode. She plans to visit every district in the state so as to establish direct contacts with TMC booth-level workers and voters. This early preparation by Didi is for several reasons. First, to take stock of the implementation of her government’s development schemes and glean whether local leaders and administration are working in tandem. Second, to nip factional feuds within TMC. Third, to weed out corruption from the grassroots level. Above all, Didi has recruited a special force from outside to give her reports without dilution of what’s happening within her party at all levels. Didi who kicked off her panchayat campaign visiting the Jangalmahal areas in the Jhargram district is likely to visit all 23 districts of the state. Her one message to her party workers is: ensure panchayat polls are peaceful unlike 2018, which was marred by violence and opposition not allowed to contest. That poll violence cost the TMC dearly in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where it lost 16 seats – from 38 it was down to 22 seats. This worked to BJPs advantage, winning 18 seats. Didi cannot afford that mistake again.
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TMC MLA’s Movie Gets Screening Preference At State-Run Nandan Theatre While Award Winning Director Srijit Mukherji Denied Slot

Four-time National award-winning director Srijit Mukherji’s film X=Prem was declined screening slots at the iconic state-run Nandan theatre. Director-cum-Trinamool Congress MLA Raj Chakraborty’s film Habji Gabji got an afternoon slot though. Srijit tweeted, “Two films released on the same day. Both applied for Nandan. But, only one got through. Whereas ideally and in all fairness either both or neither should have. Why did this happen? Though all films are equal, some films are apparently more equal than others :-).” Raj Chakraborty’s counter was quick stating, “I don’t want publicity through controversy because the film will speak the final (last) word.”  Mukherji later clarified that his question was addressed to the state government’s information and cultural affairs department, which did not cite any reason while denying him the daytime slot. Interestingly, the reason why producers clamour for the state -run theatres, especially Nandan, is because 50% of the revenue earned at the state-run theatres goes to the producers after GST deduction. The rule is applicable for the first week of release and, thereafter the amount drops to 40% in week two and so on. In the recent past, director Anik Dutta’s film Aparajita, based on legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s journey on his masterpiece creation Pather Panchali, was denied screening at Nandan as Dutta is anti-TMC.


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!