TMC, Left ideology battle now reaches the pandals

Durga Puja

Pujas have always been an opportunity for political parties in Bengal to "reach out" to the masses through books. This year it's no different. With puja pandals in Kolkata and other places receiving unprecedented footfall this year, the tussle between the ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition CPM to beat each other in terms of selling their "ideological" books has heated up.

The Trinamool claims this time it has set up over 2,000 bookstalls — 300 more than last year. At these stalls, party cadres have been trying to convince pandal-hoppers to buy books authored by Mamata Banerjee. Her collection of poems, titled Upalabdhi, and the festival edition of party mouthpiece Jago Bangla, are being aggressively marketed.

"The demand for the books has skyrocketed. So we set up 300 more bookstalls. The response has been is huge so far," said Trinamool state chief Subrata Baxi. A Trinamool cadre selling books at Chinsurah Rabindranagar Puja Committee in Hooghly, said: "We sold books worth over Rs 1,000 in the first two days of puja." Copies of Parivartan, authored by Mamata, and Kobita, a collection of her poems, are selling at a brisk pace, said Trinamool MLA Tapan Dasgupta.

The CPM, on the other hand, is selling books on Marxism and contemporary issues. For decades, setting up book stalls in front of puja pandals, has been a tradition of the Left. From 2009, Trinamool also started putting up its stalls.

CPM state committee member Sunil Sarkar said, "On an average, we have put up 60 stalls in each district. The total number of stalls put up will surely be more than 1,200. Selling books on various topics is our tradition. We do not want to compete with the Trinamool. Requesting people to purchase book on socio-economic topic is a part of our drive to make people aware about social evils," he said.

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