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HindustanTimes Sat,22 Nov 2014

Hilsa the bait for BJP to increase public contact in Bengal

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, August 11, 2014
First Published: 17:58 IST(11/8/2014) | Last Updated: 18:11 IST(11/8/2014)

Desperate to get a foothold in Bengal before the 2016 assembly polls, the BJP would be organising a 'Hilsa festival' to bank in on the fish's popularity in the state for greater public contact.

BJP leaders are organising the festival in Birati on August 24, though minus the party banner. State BJP leadership, including president Rahul Sinha and party's newly elected MP Babul Supriyo, is expected to be present.

"This is the first such initiative we have undertaken. Our aim is to bring people from all communities together through Hilsa festival," said Manikanchan Paul, secretary of BJP's Kolkata North district's youth wing and principal organiser.

"However, we are not organising it under the party banner, so that people can freely come here and interact with our leaders. Party's state leadership and MP Babul Supriyo have promised us to be present," said Paul.

The affinity for Hilsa is so strong that fish importers regularly lobby with the state government, Centre and even Dhaka government to resume imports of Bangladeshi Hilsa in Bengal.

Over 200 kg of Hilsa, each weighing over 1 kg, has been ordered from different parts of the state. The organisers have arranged for a small token money for tickets at Rs. 250 per person for unlimited lunch. However, a large number of people will be given free passes and guest cards to participate in the festival.

Incidentally, Trinamool Congress MLA from Beliaghata, Paresh Pal, has been organising Hilsa festival in north Kolkata for a few years now.


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