Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata via video conferencing today as the five-day celebrations begin in West Bengal amid the pandemic.
The BJP claims it has made elaborate arrangements for the live-viewing of PM Modi's virtual address to the people. TV screens have been put up in all the 78,000 election booth areas across the state.
The prime minister will virtually inaugurate a pandal that BJP has set up in Salt Lake in Kolkata at a cultural centre run by the central government's Ministry of Culture.
The prime minister tweeted last evening about joining the festivities at 10 am. He is likely to deliver his speech at noon.
Sisters and brothers of West Bengal,- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 21, 2020
Tomorrow, on the auspicious day of Maa Durga Pujo's Mahashashti, I would join the Divine celebrations via video conferencing and shall also be extending my greetings to everyone.
Do join the programme live!
Several big names are likely to stage cultural performances in the two hours before the speech, including dancer Dona Ganguly, wife of BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly.
Today is maha shashti, the first of five days of worship of goddess Durga.
Durga Puja is intrinsic to Bengali society and a huge opportunity for public outreach. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has inaugurated 200 pujas virtually and over a dozen in person in Kolkata city.
The BJP wants to make the most of it too and political analysts are already reading between the lines about the PM's participation in Bengal's biggest festival ahead of the assembly elections.
"He is prime minister for many years. Why is he addressing Bengal for the first time in this year's Durga Pujas? Is it because elections are round the corner," a Trinamool Congress questioned.
Last year, when Amit Shah came to inaugurate a Durga Puja at BJ block in Salt Lake, BJP claims the host puja committee members were harassed and threatened by 'Trinamool goons'.
The BJP claims they didn't want to create trouble for the puja committees who were keen to host the prime minister, so set up their own pandal.
West Bengal is scheduled to hold the Assembly polls in the first half of the next year.