Battleground Bengal: BJP mulls another outreach programme to counter 'Didi Ke Bolo'
'Didi Ke Bolo' was launched last July after poll strategist Prashant Kishor was hired by Trinamool following their below-expectation results in the Lok Sabha elections
It looks like the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is not giving up on countering Trinamool's 'Didi ke Bolo' (Tell Didi) mass outreach programme. Ahead of the upcoming municipal elections in the state, the BJP is thinking of launching an outreach programme called 'BJP ke bolo' (Tell BJP).
This will be the West Bengal BJP's third attempt at a mass outreach campaign where they hope to get direct inputs and suggestions from people. The BJP had launched 'Dada ke Bolo' (Tell Dada) before the Lok Sabha elections and 'Cha chakra Dilipdar sange' (Discussions with Dilip da over tea) in which the West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh visited various areas in the state and had discussions with people about the issues they faced.
The BJP leaders, however, denied that the initiative -- that is expected to be launched in a few days -- is meant to counter TMC's 'Didi Ke Bolo' and insisted that it is aimed at asking for people's grievances against the TMC-run civic bodies whilst understanding their needs and demands.
The elections to 107 municipalities and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), to be held this year, are being dubbed as 'mini assembly elections' ahead of the 2021 polls.
As part of the 'BJP ke Bolo' initiative, a helpline number will be launched wherein people will be able to call and register their grievances; if the saffron party is elected to the civic bodies, it will try to solve the problems, a senior party leader said.
"First, a pilot project will be launched wherein only BJP workers in the 107 municipalities will be asked to register feedback of the masses. Later, a statewide toll free number will be launched for the people," he said.
This initiative will increase the party's direct mass outreach and help it identify issues in the civic bodies, the BJP leader said.
The Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee alleged that the saffron party was trying to copy the Trinamool Congress' initiative.
"They are trying to copy us. Let them do that. We are not bothered. But it will not bear any fruit as they do not have a mass leader in West Bengal like Mamata Banerjee," he said.
'Didi Ke Bolo' was launched last July after poll strategist Prashant Kishor was hired by Trinamool following their below-expectation results in the Lok Sabha elections. The campaign received over 10 lakh phone calls in the first month, and enabled some people to send their message directly to the state government.
Trinamool leaders also conducted mass outreach rallies in 1,022 villages within a month. The response from the districts prompted TMC to launch the third phase last October. Over 600 blocks and town presidents were asked to visit more than 2,000 villages and municipal wards.
The campaign helped the ruling party to somewhat restore the energy of its cadre following the Lok Sabha drubbing, where the BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state, just four less than the TMC tally of 22.