After Tepid Returns From Two Outreach Programmes, A Desperate Trinamool To Launch One More On Prashant Kishor’s Advice
The ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ programme did receive a huge response but, said a senior Trinamool leader, most were angry ones that highlighted corruption, malpractices and nepotism in the ranks of the party.
Respondents even asked Mamata Banerjee if Trinamool functionaries accused of taking ‘cut money’ would be penalised and when attacks by Trinamool hoodlums on Opposition activists would stop.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee will launch her third outreach programme by the end of this month.
Like the first two mass outreach programmes titled Didi Ke Bolo (take your complaints and requests to ‘Didi’ or Mamata Banerjee) and Banglar Gorbo Mamata (Mamata, the pride of Bengal), this too has been fashioned by Trinamool’s hired strategist Prashant Kishor.
The returns from the first two outreach programmes were disappointing. The two, run through dedicated websites ( and ), did elicit a fair bit of responses, but not the sort Kishor or the Trinamool were hoping for.
Most of those who wrote in complained about corrupt practices of lower and mid-level Trinamool functionaries and also about they being deprived of many government schemes.
A huge number of respondents also mocked the claims made by the Trinamool government. And in what would have been deeply embarrassing for Mamata Banerjee, many also wanted to know why residents of Bengal were being denied the benefits of Central schemes.
Admittedly, this outreach programme, launched in end-July last year, did record a huge number of appeals for help that were promptly addressed.
But its launch was also followed by a deluge of complaints from people, especially in the rural areas, about ‘cut money’ (commissions) being taken by Trinamool functionaries in the panchayats and local bodies for extending benefits of various state and Central welfare schemes.
In response to Didi Ke Bolo, the Congress in Bengal launched a Didi Ke Bolchi (we’re telling Didi) website in mid-August last year where very uncomfortable questions were posed.
Respondents there asked Mamata Banerjee if Trinamool functionaries accused of taking ‘cut money’ would be penalised and when attacks by Trinamool hoodlums on Opposition activists would stop.
Those queries were forwarded to the Didi Ke Bolo site, but unsurprisingly, none received any response.
The response to Banglar Gorbo Mamata was more disappointing. This 75-day outreach programme launched on 2 March this year was supposed to involve more than 75,000 leaders and grassroots workers of the Trinamool who would reach out to 2.5 crore people living in the 15,000 most populous habitations in the state.
The purpose of this programme was to make the Trinamool’s communication strategy more effective and deepen its engagement with the masses.
Citizens were encouraged to register with the website and write in their suggestions. But few actually did.
Faced with such a disappointing response, Trinamool leaders asked party workers and supporters to register themselves.
At many places, small incentives in the form of petty cash handouts and material gifts were also allegedly given surreptitiously to people to register themselves.
Thanks to such ‘tricks’, a few thousand people registered and Kishor branded it a great success. But in real terms, this outreach programme was a huge failure.
Undeterred, Kishor has now crafted another outreach programme that will seek to showcase the ‘achievements’ of the Trinamool government since it came to power in 2011.
The latest outreach campaign, which Trinamool sources said would be titled Bangodhwani (echo of Bengal), will also elaborate on the many development and social welfare schemes launched by Mamata Banerjee.
This programme will involve Trinamool leaders and functionaries reaching out to people all over the state.
“We will cover all the nearly 79,000 polling booth areas in the state. Our workers will go door-to-door and explain all the development initiatives of Mamata Banerjee and what all has been achieved since 2011. Our workers will also listen to complaints and grievances of the people and try to address them. Many Ministers will also participate in this programme. Our teams will be accompanied by members of (Prashant Kishor’s) IPAC,” said a senior minister.
Bangodhwani will also serve to provide feedback from the ground level to the Trinamool leadership, said the minister. It will be an effective assessment of the ground level situation prevailing in the state, he added.
Apart from door-to-door visits, the programme will also involve interactions with small groups of prominent residents of an area.
But another senior minister, who is critical of Kishor, told Swarajya that this outreach programme is destined to be another exercise in futility.
“What Kishor has suggested — door-to-door campaigns and deeper connection with the people — is what a political party has to do constantly, throughout the year. One cannot do it just before the polls and hope for people’s support. People are not fools,” he said.
He also said that Kishor has been designing these campaigns and selling them to Mamata Banerjee just to stay relevant and also to justify the astronomical sum he is charging for his services.
Many in Trinamool are quite unenthusiastic about this campaign and feel it will be yet another ‘flop show’.
As the senior Trinamool minister said, such gimmicks are counterproductive in a politically conscious state like Bengal.
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