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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.
Abhishek Didi

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.
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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.
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Mahua Moitra Expulsion Leaves West Bengal Cong-CPM In Dilemma

Having stood by expelled Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has left both Pradesh Congress and CPI (M) in a dilemma. In Bengal the party workers from both Cong and CPI (M) have questioned the stand as Trinamool is their rival and feels that the State BJP would be encashing the move. Significantly, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced that Mahua will again contest from Krishnanagar seat. According to Pradesh Congress sources, having supported Mahua, will any Opposition candidates have a chance of winning? Moreover, the anti-BJP and minority votes are expected to go in favor of Mahua. It is further added that the party workers are skeptical of how to establish “setting” theory between Trinamool and BJP as claimed by Pradesh Congress President Adhir Chowdhury and CPI (M) State Secretary Mohammad Salim. A section of Congress and CPI (M) leaders feel that this will be giving Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari an upper hand of establishing his claim of Congress-CPI(M) being the B-team of Trinamool. However, Adhir has made it clear that support to Mahua since the beginning was similar to that of Rahul Gandhi where both were targeted for voicing against Adani, which is no way connected to opposing a corrupt Trinamool government in Bengal. Similarly, Salim, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and State member Sujan Chakraborty said that protesting against Mahua’s expulsion was because it was arbitrary, however, the party to continue its protest against both BJP and TMC in Bengal
kapur

An IAS Officer With A Difference

From his artistic innovations to renovate Kolkata Tramways to debut solo art exhibition titled “Love and Longing” IAS officer, Rajanvir Singh Kapur is handling his administrative affairs and passion simultaneously. Kapur is currently Special Secretary, Sundarbans Affairs Department of Government of West Bengal and is the officer who brought a lot of artistic innovations in the Kolkata tramways from holding moving library to a restaurant during his previous charge as Managing Director of West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC). A self-taught artist, Rajan’s art depicts women empowerment, and also signifies the emotional states of love and longing created during the pandemic where many loved ones were separated by distance and many losing their loved ones. Besides paintings, Kapur also used Phulkari, a traditional embroidery in Punjab region, as an expression for his art work. He has taken the melange of love through various elements like jealousy, envy, seduction, taboo etc through paintings depicting each emotion. The launch of the art exhibition saw various artists and well-known personalities of the city. IAS officer Roshni Sen, Director Arindam Sil, Actor turned MLA Soham Chakraborty, Actor Pallavi Chatterjee, were amongst the many who attended the launch. Eminent painter Jogen Chowdhury observed that it is interesting to see how an administrator perceived art as he’s intrinsically involved in the daily lives of people owing to his work. Kapur believes that at present his arts are not for sale, but would if he needed to do it for a cause.
modi_gita

Is It Gita Jayanti Celebration Or BJP’s Lok Sabha Poll Campaign Launch For West Bengal?

BJP is set to prepare a centre stage at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Gita Jayanti Celebration on December 24. It is apparent that the programme is the initiative of various organizations of the Sangh Parivar, yet the official organiser is Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrit Parishad. Several functionaries of the organisation including central committee member of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Swami Nirgunananda Maharaj met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 17, officially inviting him to attend the programme. Over lakhs of monks across several Sanatan Hindu organisations such as Bharat Sevashram Sangha and others will be chanting Gita Sotras to mark the occasion named ‘Laksh Kante Gitapath’ (Gita Chants by Lakh Voices). The organisers along with BJP Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar presented the PM with the official invite on a silver plaque with Devnagari script written in copper. Manas Bhattacharya, member of the organising committee says that the PM has expressed his desire to chant Gita Sotras along with the monks. Even the President Draupadi Murmu has confirmed her presence. Claiming it to be a non-political event, Bhattacharya informed that they will also invite West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the chief guest and other MPs and MLAs of the state across political parties. It may seem a non-political event but BJP will not let lose the opportunity to use the platform to drive home its Hindutva agenda in Bengal ahead of 2024 general elections.
Mamata_017

Didi Claims Party Members Not-Guilty And Vows Revenge Against BJP

In several months after some of her prominent party leaders were arrested for their alleged involvement in scams, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee in her first public endorsement not only stood by them but made it categorical that she will also apply the same tactics of arrests against BJP leaders. Reinstating her faith in party’s Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra in the eye of the storm in the “cash-for-query” case, Didi stated that it is the ploy of BJP to “oust Mahua ” from the Parliament. According to her, this would end up boosting the popularity and electoral prospects of the TMC MP, one of the Adani group’s fiercest critics. Interestingly, Didi named four arrested TMC leaders — Partha Chatterjee, Manik Bhattacharya, Anubrata Mondal and Jyotipriyo Mallick – and said they were not-guilty of money laundering in teacher’s recruitment scam, cattle smuggling scam and ration distribution scam. Sending a warning to BJP, Didi vowed to make it a revenge game by arresting eight BJP leaders with cases of criminal offenses. As a much needed step amid increasing allegations of scam against party leaders, TMC’s meeting at Netaji Indoor Stadium was to boost the morale of party members. BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari threatened to lodge an FIR against the chief minister for her comments to arrest “eight BJP leaders” in an act of “tit-for-tat”.
pippa

Family Members Of Bangladesh Poet Seek Didi’s Intervention In AR Rahman’s ‘Pippa’ Song Controversy

Family members of Bangladesh revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam living in India and Bangladesh came together in Kolkata to condemn the “distorted” AR Rahman rendition of Nazrul’s patriotic song Karar Oi Louho Kopat in the war biopic Pippa. The song was written by Islam in 1922 as a rousing nationalist anthem against the British Raj. It is learnt, a section of the family including Kazi Arindam, the poet’s younger grandson, and Khilkhil Kazi, Nazrul’s Dhaka-based granddaughter are likely to move the court against another family member — poet’s eldest grandson Anirban Kazi. Both claimed that Anirban signed as a witness to the “supposed contract” for the song’s adaptation and recreation license forged between Kalyani Kazi, Nazrul’s daughter-in-law, and the producers of the film in September 2021 in exchange for Rs 2 lakhs. Incidentally, Kalyani passed away in May 2023. Moreover, the copyrights of Nazrul’s works, currently held by the poet’s legal heirs, would expire in 2036. Khilkhil Kazi, who flew from Dhaka is one of the trustees of Nazrul Board of Bangladesh which permits artists to use Nazrul Giti in productions. The protesting family members have demanded immediate removal of the song from the movie and all digital platforms. To avoid such recurrence, both Arindam and Khilkhil Kazi have sought intervention from the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. They have requested Didi to set up a Nazrul Board of West Bengal, which will be represented by Arindam Kazi on behalf of the poet’s family to look into these copyright matters.
dilip ghosh

Former BJP State President In WB Dilip Ghosh Sidelined By Party

In a recent turn of events, the once powerful former BJP state president and Kharagpur Sadar MP Dilip Ghosh finds himself totally sidelined by his party. Apparently, his room at the party’s headquarters and also the main auditorium were put under locks. A few days back when he visited the party headquarters, he found that AC from his room had been removed. However, state functionaries dismisses these incidents saying it could be because the state party office has been shifted to the Salt Lake Sector V and the IT cell is under renovation. However, Ghosh’s close associates claim that ‘Dilipda’ was never informed of such a change. Party sources say that the state unit was immensely displeased with Ghosh’s decision to hold ‘Vijaya Sammelan’ after Durga Puja without taking permission from the state functionaries. This resulted in the decision that the party office in central Kolkata would not be opened for anyone without the permission of state president Sukanta Majumder. This is the second time Ghosh faces action from the party high command. In July this year he was removed from the position of National Vice President. Ghosh’s sidelining started after his initial attempt to ‘be friends’ with Majumder was thwarted and their statewide tour was mysteriously cancelled. It further worsened due to his regular criticisms of top leaders in the state unit.
Roshini mukherjee

Indian-Origin Banker Turned Entrepreneur Wins UK Award For Empowering Women In India

Making her country and community proud is Roshini Mukerjee, senior banker-turned- fashion entrepreneur living in the UK for close to two decades. This Indian-British entrepreneur was awarded — Women in Business: Empowering Other Women in India. Roshni is the founder of the brand Myosutra which promises to bring forth culture to couture on sarees to bridge both worlds of Europe and Bengal. She was awarded at the Indo-UK Business meet in the Palaces of Westminster hosted by MP Bob Blackman. She received the award from MP Dean Russel. This is also a recognition of her drive, determination, and vision of entrepreneurship in the UK. Myosutra which was established in 2017 offers handpicked exclusive Bengal Handlooms where each piece is an artwork that reflects both worlds of Europe and Bengal. By setting up this business she has ensured women who suffer domestic violence find both solace and solution and in the process are empowered. Her unconditional love for the Indian craftsmanship has translated into Myosutra promoting Indian ethnic wear like sarees, kurtas, dhotis and accessories. Roshini has been making a conscious effort to showcase Bengal. Her aim is to uplift the women weavers of Bengal and also to make Indian culture and tradition more accessible to the British Indians, the British Asians and the British community.
Pradip_Sujan

Pradeep Bhattacharya and Sujan Chakraborty

Mahua Moitra Gets Unexpected Support From CPI (M) And Congress

At a time when the Ethics Committee of the Parliament gave its stamp on the recommendation to dismiss Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Maitra from parliamentary position in the case of exchange of money, the parliamentarian has got support not only from the second in command of the party – TMC National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee, but also from the arch rivals the CPI(M) and Congress. However, BJP MLA and Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari is not satisfied with that and claims that Mahua has done anti-national work and must be jailed. Taking a dig at the TMC leader who represents Krishnanagar constituency, Adhikari was categorical in stating that her membership is only a matter of time and people want such fraudulent MPs to go to jail. However, for the first time since the issue sparked, Abhishek stood by Mahua stating that the firebrand leader is “competent enough to fight her own battles”. Interestingly, veteran Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya stood by Mahua saying that he is doubtful about the logic behind the decision by majority. He further suggested Mahua should approach the court if possible. Echoing similar views, CPI(M) State Committee member Sujan Chakraborty said, ‘It was not understood how a person could be expelled at the same time be investigated upon by CBI. The ethics committee takes a different role arbitrarily. This activity of the Ethics Committee was not seen after allegations were raised against BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri in the Lok Sabha.”
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Tollywood Gets New Genre Actor-Turned-Producers

The growing trend of Bengali Tollywood is that several actors turn producers in order to compete with the OTT creative works that have gained immense popularity post Covid pandemic. From superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jeet, Dev to parallel actors Parambrata Chattopadhyay, starlet duo Bonny Sengupta and Koushani Mukherjee and several others have started their own production houses. Majority of the actor-turned-producers have pointed out that their production ventures are mainly to explore themselves as actors in varied subjects and roles. According to Jeet, Grassroot Entertainment’ and Jeetz Filmworks focus mainly on commercial blockbusters with Jeet in the lead. It can be recalled that after establishing himself as a heartthrob of Bengali movies Dev set up his own production, Dev Entertainment Ventures which has produced Projapati, Tonic, Kishmish, Bagha Jatin and Durgo Rahasya. As Dev points out, it is important to do good content and establish oneself as an actor after having a good stint as a hero. However, Parambrata identifies that content is the only thing that matters to him the most. This cerebral actor established his first production house Workshop Productions in 2011 along with colleague actor Rudranil Ghosh but had to close it down. Now, with directors Aritra Sen and Supriyo Sen he has started Roadshow Films. Veteran Actor Prosenjit’s production house, NIDEAS Creations and Productions is giving opportunities to newcomers while Bonny and Koushani had to launch BK Entertainments only to break free from being typecast in romantic movies. 
JP nadda amit

Will Shah-Nadda Personally Oversee Bengal In 2024 General Elections?

In an attempt to make a dent in West Bengal ahead of 2024 General Elections speculations are rife that the Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP National President Jagat Prakash Nadda are likely to take joint charge of the organisation of Bengal. According to sources, the state BJP has already been informed by the central leadership about the proposed arrangement. Moreover, during Shah’s recent visit to inaugurate Durga Puja Pandal of Santosh Mitra Square, he had categorically said, “I will come to Bengal regularly and will also talk about politics.” Echoing Shah, Nadda stated the same, mentioning that the BJP will ensure a corruption free Bengal. However, sources mentioned that continued internal feud in the Bengal BJP unit has resulted in these statements. There have been agitations, riots, clashes outside the party’s head office in Kolkata protesting the role of state leadership. Cadres tore district leaders and state president Sukanta Majumder’s posters. In separate incidents, two BJP MPs from Bengal face protests in their home turf. While Malda Uttar MP Khagen Murmu faced protests from villagers displaced by erosion, Union Minister of State Subhas Sarkar was locked at the party office by BJP supporters protesting his interference in appointments. Recently, old guards of state BJP have floated BJP Bachao Manch, and have taken to the path of agitation expressing their strong distrust of the role of the current state leadership. These incidents have left the central leadership extremely displeased with the state unit.
Mamata_016

Didi Resumes Office Amid State Minister Arrest And Tata Nano Verdict

West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee returned to her office at Nabanna after one and half months due to her knee problem. Didi last visited her office on September 11 before she went to Spain and Dubai. She returned to Kolkata on September 23 and was forced to visit SSKM Superspeciality Hospital for knee problems. That’s when doctors advised her to rest. Since then, Didi has been working from home. As a result she was forced to ‘virtually’ inaugurate several Durga Puja pandals this year. On October 27, she went in person to attend the Durga Puja carnival at Red Road. Her government is under pressure — facing the twin blows of the arrest of her senior cabinet minister Jyotipriya Mallick in the ration distribution scam and Tata Motors winning the Singur case against the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation. The arbitral tribunal has directed the West Bengal government to pay Rs 766 crore with interest to the automobile giant since they were forced to shelve the Nano project in 2008. TMC is weighing options to challenge the verdict.
Mamata Balu

Trinamool’s Tryst With ED, One More Didi’s Close Minister Arrested

With Durga puja revelry coming to an end, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government received a jolt after one of its heavyweight ministers Jyotipriya Mallick was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with “ration distribution scam”.  Mallick, commonly called Balu, received Didi’s support when she addressed the media at her residence and accused the BJP of targeting TMC in West Bengal and termed the raid as ‘vendetta politics’ ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Interestingly, the arrest comes after Union Home Minister Amit Shah who visited Kolkata on the occasion of inauguration of one of the prestigious city puja pandals, claimed that the Central government will end corruption in Bengal. Incidentally, ED and CBI have arrested couple of arrests of TMC heavyweight leaders: Partha Chatterjee (Jul 2022), Anubrata Mondal (Aug 2022), Manik Battacharjee (Oct 2022), Jibonkrishna Saha (Apr 2023) and few more youth leaders in Teacher’s Recruitment Scam and Cattle Smuggling Scam. Recently, ED raided another Didi’s man and minister Firhad Hakim’s in the Municipal Recruitment Scam. There have been multiple summons to Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira by the ED.  West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CPI(M) state member Sujan Chakraborty, and BJP State President Sukanta Majumder squarely blamed the chief minister for the high level of corruption in the state.
bengal show

Bengali TV Soaps Witness Shrinking Shelf-Life; Courtesy OTT’s Original Series

At a time when Bengali TV soap operas are paving way for budding actors and actresses, it is also becoming a trend that these are going off air before the end of their contractual run. Gone are those days of mega serials such as Janoni and Janmobhumi longest-run in Doordarshan Bangla during the 90s. Even with the advent of private satellite channels — Subarnolata in Zee Bangla, Sreemoyee in Star Jalsa witnessed a shelf-life of 4-5 years. However, few shows make it past the 100-episode these days, making it difficult for TV networks and producers to break even. Incidentally, as consumption is shifting to OTT platforms, seasoned producers and networks are keen on the new format of ‘TV orginals’ made on a comparatively less budget than that of an episode for a TV serial. In recent times several noted serials such as Balijhor, Ekka Dokka, Guddi from Star Jalsa and Mukut, Icche Putul, Khelna Bari from Zee Bangla have witnessed abrupt endings. Many of these are run by noted producers — Leena Gangopadhyay and Saibal Banerjee owned Magic Moments Motion Pictures, Blues Production by Snehashis Chakraborty, Arka Ganguly of Organic Studios production house. Significantly, Leena is creating for Star Plus, where her popular serial Jol Nupur to be made in Hindi. Chakraborty admitted that the number of successful shows has gone down drastically and hence many are now targeting Hindi channels. His own serial Sarbajaya – helmed by celebrated Bengali actress Debashree Roy was remade in Odiya.  
Sitaram_Yechury

CPM Cadres Resentment May See Sitaram Yechury Skip Foundation Day Event In Kolkata

Amid I.N.D.I.A Bloc meetings that resulted in disgruntlement among the lower ranks of CPM, party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury will be skipping the Foundation Day programme of the party in Bengal. The party’s politburo member and former general secretary Prakash Karat will be the main speaker at the event to be held on October 17 at party’s district office Pramod Dasgupta Bhavan in Kolkata. The development comes after the anti-BJP alliance at the all-India level began to unravel in June last year. Yechury’s photo with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee in all the I.N.D.I.A meetings sparked outrage among the Bengal CPM grassroot cadres. Incidentally, the state CPM also had to take special programmes to mitigate that anger. Coincidentally, Yechury has not come to the state for any program since the controversy erupted. However, he is in charge of the party in Bengal on behalf of the Politburo. He also skipped two state committee meetings that were held between June and October this year, a central rally by farmers’ and farm workers’ organizations held in Kolkata on 31 August. Now the question is, is Bengal CPM not ‘consciously’ bringing Yechury to the state? Or is Yechury waiting for the situation to calm down? It is learnt that he is likely to attend the state CPM’s extended committee programme in Howrah between November 3-5.
mamata hakim

Why Is Didi’s Close Aide Firhad Hakim Under CBI-ED Scanner

The CBI raid at the Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Firhad Hakim’s house over his alleged involvement in the municipal recruitment scam, has once again raised questions about the overdrive of the Central agencies against the non-BJP ruled states’ politicians. Hakim, a cabinet minister of the state urban and municipal affairs department, is the first Muslim to become Kolkata mayor since Independence. Popularly known as Bobby da, he is one of the closest associates of the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Hakim has been under scanner of the CBI-ED for his alleged involvement in 2016 Narada sting operation case and municipal recruitment scam. Surprisingly, there has been no statement issued by TMC condemning the raid. And this is attributed to Hakim’s differences with Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee on several issues such as opposing Abhishek’s proposal of not giving tickets to old guards during the municipal polls in 2022. Even Hakim’s removal as the chairman of the Furfura Sharif Development Board post-Sagardighi bypoll defeat was done at the behest of Abhishek. Also, a recent rollback of a civic decision by Didi at the behest of her nephew indicates Hakim’s wings are being clipped. The question everybody within the party is asking, whether Didi will continue to handhold Hakim like she still does for jailed associate Anubrata Mondal or let her nephew have the way.
Saurav ganuly

@SGanguly99

Sourav Ganguly Clears Air About His Political Ambitions

After being hounded by politicians and trolled on social media about his recent visit to Spain along with the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly said that his identity as an individual gets him invited by everybody. Speaking during the promotional event of former Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan’s soon-to-be-released biopic in Kolkata, Sourav made it clear about his political neutrality. He stated that since he was neither an MP nor a MLA or a Corporator he was at liberty to attend any political parties function; hence was not answerable to anyone. But, what gave grist to the rumour mills is his official trip to Spain with Didi and her team to attract investments in business and sports sectors. Dada announced that a steel plant would be set up in Salboni, West Midnapore, which would be an extension of an existing sponge iron factory manufacturing TMT bars in which he holds a stake. Dada who has been endorsing numerous brands has been recently roped in as the brand ambassador of BJP-led Tripura Government’s Tourism Department. It may be recalled that just before the assembly elections in West Bengal in 2021, Union home minister Amit Shah had visited Dada’s residence. As of now Dada is very clear that he does not want to align with any political party, at least openly. But, everybody knows of his proximity to the former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPI (M).
Mamata_014

Will Panchayat Verdict Torpedo Trinamool’s Prospect In 2024 General Election?

There is a sense of apprehension within top leadership of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) about the number of seats they may win in the 2024 general elections. This fear follows a setback for TMC in 2019 general elections even after winning the 2018 Panchayat elections hands down. TMC lost several seats in North Bengal; it won 22 Lok Sabha which was a decline from its 2014 record of 34 seats. Incidentally, in the 2023 Panchayat elections too, TMC recorded a landslide victory. The bone of contention it seems is that most of its candidates won unopposed in 2023 — a similar thing happened in 2018. But the public did not take it lightly, it was angry that TMC did not allow opposition candidates to file their nominations vis a vis contest the elections. Result, their anger manifested in terms of BJP winning a record number of 18 LS seats in 2019 from its previous record of two seats. In the words of a state leader of the ruling party, “No level of public representation should be opposed, as it indicates lack of transparency and this gives an extra edge to the Opposition, especially the BJP.” However, a section of TMC leaders like Alipurduar District Trinamool President Prakash Chik Baraik and Purulia District Trinamool President Soumen Belthoria feel that it’s Didi’s pro-people policy in North Bengal that the party gained grounds in Panchayat elections.
Mamata ultimatum

Didi Gives Ultimatum To Congress, Decide Between TMC And CPI (M) In West Bengal

Following the Mumbai meeting of the I.N.D.I.A., Trinamool Congress has unofficially informed Congress High Command that it will have to decide its ‘friends’ in West Bengal. TMC sources said that the message to the Congress is quite clear that it must choose between the party with a possible 30 LS seats, and the Left with no seats. TMC sources added that it has been conveyed to Congress that if it decides to join hands with the Trinamool, two seats — Baharampur and Maldaha Dakshin would be left to them. At present these two seats are held by Congress with Bengal Congress Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury winning from Baharampur and veteran leader Abhu Hasem Khan Chowdhury from Maldaha Dakshin. Moreover, TMC will not object if Congress wants to give one to the CPI(M). However, Pradesh Congress sources termed this as the arrogance of party supremo Mamata Banerjee. Incidentally, a senior leader of TMC stated that during the alliance meeting, Didi has made it categorical that specific terms should be followed in the states which do not have alliance. The seat sharing must be decided on the basis of last Lok Sabha seats won, the results of the last Vidhan Sabha polls, three, the results of the last Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls combined. Incidentally, there will be no hassle for 250 seats across the country, remaining seats will have to be decided among various I.N.D.I.A partners.
I.N.D.I

Is CPI(M) Hesitant To Join The I.N.D.I.A Coordination Committee?

A tough road lies ahead of CPI(M) Politburo at its two-day meeting between September 16 and 17, where it will decide upon its representation at the I.N.D.I.A Coordination Committee. Out of a 14-member committee as decided by the Bloc, the 14th one remained vacant when the first meeting of the committee was held at NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar’s house in New Delhi on September 13 since CPI(M) is yet to give its representation. However, it is known that party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury met Pawar the day after the meeting and discussed the alliance. According to party insiders, the central committee of the CPI(M) held a meeting after the I.N.D.I.A Bloc’s Benguluru meeting, but no name was proposed for the coordination committee representation. Instead, there’s a divide of views where a section of senior leaders feel that the party should refrain from being a part of the committee, another section feels that it should take time to decide upon a name. However, central committee member Shamik Lahiri informed that the name will be finalised in the Politburo meeting itself. Interestingly, some of the leaders from the Bengal unit said that it is difficult for the Politburo to finalize the name by bypassing the Central Committee. In that case, a new debate may be created within the party, at a time when cadres are questioning the party’s decision to be a part of Trinamool Congress ally.
bangla diwas

Bengal Gets “Bangla Divas”, But Tussle Continues Over Dates

West Bengal gets its identity day or “Bangla Divas” in a resolution passed by the West Bengal State Assembly. Mamata Banerjee government ratified the resolution to celebrate “Bangla Divas” on Poila Baisakh, the first day of the Bengali calendar. The Assembly also passed the resolution declaring Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s composition “Banglar Mati Banglar Jol,” as the state song. Amid protest from the Opposition BJP, the resolutions were passed by 167-62 votes. The BJP legislators voted against the treasury bench resolutions. Incidentally, the Central government earlier this year issued a notification to celebrate June 20 as Poshchim Banga divas. Subsequently, the day was celebrated at the Raj Bhavan by Governor CV Ananda Bose here which led to a strong opposition from Didi. However, according to the Chief Minister, celebrating June 20 as Paschim Banga Divas was a “distortion of history” since the day also marks the division of undivided Bengal. Meanwhile, Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and other BJP legislators protested against the resolution and marched to Raj Bhavan where they submitted a memorandum to the Governor. While Didi has made it categorical that it does not matter to her government whether the Governor ratifies the date or not since it is a resolution not a bill, Adhikari maintained that since President Draupadi Murmu wished people of Bengal on June 20, it makes the official date to celebrate Bengal’s resurgence.
Sitaram Yechury

CPI (M) Cadres Want No Truck With Didi’s Party In West Bengal

At a time when the I.N.D.I.A front is slowly progressing towards its goal of an united Opposition, Bengal CPI(M) unit finds it extremely difficult to contain the cadres and their questions about the party’s stand.  Recently, the Bengal unit undertook workshops across the districts to work towards anti-BJP campaigns in coming months. However, the district leadership faced a volley of questions mostly pertaining to party’s secretary Sitaram Yechury’s stage sharing with arch rival — Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee. Sources at CPI(M) said that the cadres have not only expressed their discontent over the association with TMC but raised several questions. A section of cadres have questioned whether the party will be allying with TMC in the 2024 Lok Sabha election on the basis of the formula that everyone should support the party in their pockets of influence. If not then what would be the campaign process? Some have even questioned if Congress High Command asks the Pradesh Congress to ally with the TMC, will Bengal CPI(M) continue to hold hands with Congress or go alone.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend the ant-TMC stand within CPI(M).  The most significant question of the cadres was whether the party would support the government formed by the I.N.D.I.A. which will have Didi as one of the key players.

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.