Ahead of next year’s assembly elections, BJP’s West Bengal pitch could not have been more apt with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual inauguration of a Durga Puja pandal in Salt Lake of Kolkata on Thursday morning.
From paying tribute to state icons to speaking a bit of Bengali himself, PM Modi kickstarted the five-day celebrations with a message to the masses in the state that the saffron party partakes in cultural heritage. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has often dismissed the BJP as an "outsider".
“Whenever the need was felt in India's history, Bengal has always led the way for India and shown the path. There have been many renowned people who have come from Bengal and have contributed immensely in guiding the nation is the right direction,” said Modi during his speech.
The PM added, “The festival of Durga Puja is a festival that reflects the unity and strength of India. It is also a reflection of the traditions and culture that comes from Bengal.”
Modi did not lose out on the opportunity to slip in political overtones of the BJP-led central schemes that have helped Bengal. References to Goddess Durga and women empowerment, education for the girl child were a part of his speech.
Big screens had been installed in several places across the state for the public to watch the inauguration. For BJP supporters in the state, every word of PM Modi counts as they look up to his image to take on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the 2021 state elections.
While the Modi factor played an important role in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to help BJP bag 18 of 42 seats in the state, only time will tell if it will have much of an impact in the Assembly elections on TMC’s turf.