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TMC digital drive to project Mamata as the nation’s anti-BJP face

The campaign would be conducted in Hindi, Urdu, English and Bengali.

kolkata Updated: Sep 21, 2018 16:33 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,Trinamool Congress,Abhishek Banerjee
One of the slogans says “Let’s change. This time, we want a Bengali Prime Minister”.(HT Photo)

Chalo paltai, ebare Bangali pradhanmantri chai. (Let’s change. This time, we want a Bengali Prime Minister.)

Angikar 2019, Bangalai ebar 42-e 42 (Promise for 2019, in Bengal 42 out of 42).

Such slogans from Trinamool Congress’ digital army of 40,000 volunteers will flood social media platforms in the coming months. More than a dozen such slogans will be crafted in Hindi, Urdu, English and Hindi. The objective: project West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, as a key face of anti-BJP movement in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections next year.

Read: Mamata Banerjee has set her sights on Delhi

The IT cell of Bengal’s ruling party is headed by Lok Sabha MP and chief minister’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee. Suparno Moitra, former regional director (east) Nasscom and a financial and business analyst and Colonel Diptanshu Chowdhury (retired), a Kargil war veteran form the next line of command.

The choice of language makes it evident that Mamata Banerjee’s party is trying to reach out a countywide audience.

An audio message of the chief minister, circulated among the social media group administrators, emphasised extensive of Hindi as a medium.

Read: Durga puja politics: Mamata Banerjee sends out a clear message to BJP

“Remember this is a national election. So concentrate on Hindi as a medium of campaign, besides Bengali and English, so that you can spread the message of Trinamool at the national level,” the chief minister said in the audio message.

Pathik Kumar Mukherjee, a master-trainer of Trinamool’s IT cell, whose job is to train others in the cell in his respective locality, said that besides Hindi, Urdu will also be another important medium of of this digital campaign as instructed by the IT cell leadership. “India, including Bengal, has sizeable Urdu- speaking population and to reach out to them digitally, the focus is also on Urdu,” he said.

“The IT cell leaders have told us to look for volunteers who can speak, read and write more than one language,” said Chandan Sahoo, a volunteer from the district of Jhargram.

Read: Trinamool leaders urge Muslims not to display swords in Muharram processions

Though Mamata Banerjee has said that she has no ambitions of being the Prime Minister – she likes to describe herself as a LIP (least important person) as opposed to a VIP – it is clear that the party will project her as a possible Prime Ministerial face.

“Be it demonetisation or ill-planned GST or citizenship screening exercise in Assam, our chief minister has emerged as the key face of anti-people policies of the Union government. She has also proposed the formula of one-to-one contest against BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections that many parties have appreciated,” said Trinamool secretary general, Partha Chatterjee.

Political observer Debasish Sarkar, who is the principal of Chandernagore College, is sceptical of the efficacy of Trinamool’s cyber campaign.

Read: Mamata raises pitch for anti-BJP front, says TMC will bring Opposition together at rally next year

“The party is restricted to Bengal only. A party can spread to other states only through grassroots-level activity. Digital campaign is a mode that any party with national ambition can try, but it should have a grassroots-level manpower management,” said Sarkar.

Though Trinamool was active on social media for the past few years, it is rapidly adding muscle to the drive. The party kicked off its process of recruiting 40,000 cyber warriors by conducting a workshop for 200 master trainers on June 20.

The blueprint and the slogans for the digital campaign will be finalised at a convention at a city auditorium on September 23, where the administrators of all social media groups will be present.

Read: 2019 polls to mark beginning of the end for Trinamool Congress, says Amit Shah

On September 10 at the party’s digital conclave, Abhishek Banerjee instructed the digital army soldiers to be aggressive in their approach.

“Visit the different pages of BJP and RSS, through which there are spreading falsehood and counter them there through logic and statistics. Always remember offence is the best defence. But don’t abuse your opponent,” said the 30-year-old MP.

However, BJP leaders did not spare a jibe.

“Mamata Banerjee is dreaming of being the Prime Minister. But it will remain a day dream. Her party is welcome to go to any extent to market her,” said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of BJP’s Bengal unit.

First Published: Sep 21, 2018 16:19 IST