BJP's "Bengalification" To Blunt Mamata Banerjee's "Didi Ke Bolo"

Published: August 23, 2019 14:12 IST
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It is not exactly imitation but poll strategist Prashant Kishor can feel flattered.

His mass contact campaign for Mamata Banerjee called Didi Ke Bolo or Tell Didi has prompted BJP Bengal to launch a counter campaign for its chief Dilip Ghosh.

Cynics are labelling it "Dada ke Bolo".

But come September, the BJP will launch "Cha Chakrey Dilip Da". The former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh man who many believe is instrumental in BJP bagging 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections is basically inviting people to his tea party.

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A 105-second video released by BJP has pictures of Mr Ghosh in a variety of poses - drinking tea, offering prayers, playing with kids, posing with a cow on a beach (NDTV)

Much like Mr Narendra Modi's "Chai Pe Charcha" but with a Bengali twist.

In fact, analysts are viewing this campaign as the 'Bengalification of the BJP' and clear signal that the party has decided upon its chief minister candidate for 2021.

For long, the BJP has been slighted by political rivals as a north Indian party. The "Cha Chakrey" camping is clearly an attempt to fix that problem for a party gearing up for the final push - winning the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021.

A 105-second video released by BJP has pictures of Mr Ghosh in a variety of poses - drinking tea, offering prayers, playing with kids, posing with a cow on a beach.

A female anchor speaks, persuasively. "Cha Chakrey Dilip Da. No placatory phone call, or phony letter to make you feel happy. Come face to face with Dilip Da who runs from Cooch Behar to Kakdwip to work for Bengal's people. He will visit your para, share your pain, your joy, your daily travails. Your very own Dilip Ghosh."

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Just as Prashant Kishor is promoting a softer, gentler Mamata Banerjee through videos of her making chai by a roadside or cuddling children, the BJP, too, is making over Dilip Ghosh (File Photo)

The voice pushes many right buttons in Project Bengalification. Like Ghosh visiting your 'para' or neighbourhood for some 'adda', those long, animated conversations about anything under the sun that Bengalis are fond of.

But there is more. The background music is the tune of a song composed by Rabindranath Tagore that every Bengali knows. "O amar desher mati, tomar pore thakai matha" or "O my native soil, I bow my head to you in deep obeisance".

It fits BJP's nationalistic profile and is yet comfortingly familiar for Bengalis who BJP is trying to woo. And Rabindrasangeet is easily the way to a Bengali's heart. BJP and Rabindrasangeet were distanced till now. Mamata Banerjee had taken ownership of Tagore, reciting his poems often. She may now have competition.

There is yet another target this campaign is trying to meet, say analysts. It is a clear bid to project Dilip Ghosh as chief minister in waiting. Waiting to replace Mamata Banerjee, the incumbent.

Just as Prashant Kishor is promoting a softer, gentler Mamata Banerjee through videos of her making chai by a roadside or cuddling children, the BJP, too, is making over Dilip Ghosh - sometimes abrasive in his speeches or political reactions. He is now Dilip Da, "ghorer chele" or "ghoroa", your son in your home.

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Many outsiders were considered as the chief minister face for West Bengal, but the BJP seems to have decided to put its money on Dilip Ghosh (NDTV)

Very different from the Ghosh just two days ago. Asked about BJP women who beat up a Trinamool woman supporter who was trying to create something of a ruckus at a BJP meet, Ghosh said, "Good thing. They should have beaten her some more and harder." That's probably the last time he has spoken so.

BJP has long been trying to find a chief minister face for Bengal. Many outsiders were considered, as well as many imports from out of the state. But the BJP seems to have decided to put its money on Ghosh.

"Tell him all. Speak to him freely from your heart," the Dilip Da promo coaxes.

"When is he visiting your area? You must find out. You know he is the one only person in the state who solve problems. The one and only Dilip Ghosh. Contact your closest BJP office for a date."

Date with Dilip Da. Prashant Kishor will have to come up with something to beat that.

(Monideepa Banerjie is NDTV's Executive Editor - East based in Kolkata.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.



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