‘Didi ke Bolo’: Mamata’s strategy to stop BJP tide

This campaign bore remarkable resemblance with the outreach style of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, bearing the signature of Prashant Kishor who was in the saffron camp in 2014, even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did a Mayawati in her speech

Kolkata: “Give me a call!” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has launched this campaign in her State in an apparent bid to check the opposition BJP’s increasing popularity. With this, the Trinamool wishes to give the 21-year-old party a facelift, too. The message “Didi Ke Bolo (tell didi)” is splashed on banners and posters across the capital of the State along with a mobile phone number. If a citizen faces some issues with governance, he/she may dial none lesser than the chief minister for a redress.

A website of the same name has been launched along the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s MyGov. One can leave his/her views in its comment section. ‘Didi’ will get back to the complainant, goes the promise.

Banerjee insists the Trinamool is not going corporate — a question raised due to the glossy, information brochure-like bilingual pamphlets distributed at the venue — but is turning “modern”. Asked whether this was poll strategist Prashant Kishor, the chief minister rather characteristically lost her cool.

Banerjee is not emulating Modi alone. Today she did a Mayawati, too! The chief minister read out a printed statement for the first time in her entire political career instead of speaking extempore as she always does.

A source in the party explained why the Trinamool logo in the programme’s literature was in black-and-white, saying, “Because it is black-and-white on the EVM, too.”

There was one more act of imitation. As seen in a BJP rally, unlike the public meetings by others, rows of chairs were adorned in white overalls in the front rows. They far exceeded the number of journalists attending the press conference of sorts.

“When other parties are using data and other things, we also want to use technology to keep in touch with people,” Banerjee said without mentioning the BJP or India’s tech-savvy prime minister.

A source said the “Call Didi” or “Didi Ke Bolo” campaign is an order from Banerjee to her party workers to go back to “Trinamool” or the grassroots. “In the next 100 days, 1,000 elected party workers will go to 10,000 villages to the booth-level and meet party workers, ordinary people and eminent people in their respective areas if they are willing to meet,” said Banerjee.

“Party workers will stay overnight if needed in the villages. They will also have at least one meal in the village in the home of a booth level worker,” she added. “In every village, at the end of the day, they will raise a flag — the Trinamool flag,” the chief minister said.

Banerjee refused to acknowledge she was kicking off the Trinamool’s 2021 poll campaign. Elections, she said, are almost two years away. But journalists present almost unanimously murmured that the party ruling the State had received a severe jolt in the latest Lok Sabha election and that this campaign was clearly a reaction to that.

The scribes also nearly agreed that the campaign idea had come from Kishor, brought in as a campaign manager by the nephew and party lawmaker, Abhishek Banerjee. After ‘making’ Jaganmohan Reddy win in Andhra Pradesh, Kishor met with Banerjee first on 6 June. It does not matter, the journalists said, that Banerjee had evaded questions on the role of Kishor’s firm, the Indian Political Action Committee. The chief minister dodged every question on Kishor even today, but none in the audience was impressed.

By Narad

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