Kolkata: Dressed in the traditional Bengali attire dhoti-kurta, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on October 22 light the a lamp in Delhi to inaugurate Durga Puja festivities across the country. The day marks Sasthi, auspicious the sixth day of the ‘Devi Paksh’ fortnightly of the Bengali almanac and the first big day of the festivities.

With Union Minister Babul Supriyo by his side, it is from the same platform that Modi will deliver the ‘Puja Ki Baat’ speech for the nation.

The Bengal unit of the BJP has invited Sourav Ganguly’s wife Dona Ganguly and her troupe to perform at the inauguration programme at Eastern Zonal Cultural Center (EZCC) in Salt Lake, Kolkata, where the party would host, in quite an unprecedented manner, a full-fledged Durga Puja of its own. The inauguration of this puja would coincide with the Prime Minister’s programme in New Delhi.

The inclusion of Dona, a reputed Odissi danseuse, in the programme, has added fuel to the speculation of Sourav Ganguly, Bengal’s very own Dada, being projected as BJP’s face in Bengal in the upcoming 2021 state polls against Mamata Banerjee. Both Ganguly and the party’s erstwhile president, Amit Shah, have rubbished that possibility in the past.

What’s also left the BJP’s Bengal unit clearly divided is its decision to organise a Durga Puja, albeit in the official banner of its cultural cell. While BJP Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh had previously brushed aside the possibility of the party organising the puja on grounds that such a move goes against the mandate of a political party, his current indisposition as a hospitalised Covid 19 patient leaves him with the helplessness of having to suffer the ignominy of his stand getting overridden by the faction currently calling the shots.

Ironically, Ghosh is housed at a medical facility, AMRI Salt Lake unit, which is at a stone’s throw distance from EZCC where BJP would be hosting its puja extravaganza.

“I was personally against the move and requested Shiv Prakash-ji to abandon the project. We were opposing Mamata Banerjee’s move in Calcutta High Court to facilitate Durga Puja in the time of Pandemic, and yet we ended up making the same mistake. We could have easily done the puja in the virtual mode and restricted public entry but my opinion seems to have fallen on deaf ears,” regretted a senior BJP leader of the state who did not wish to be named.

“We could have used the opportunity and hit the ball for a sixer. Instead, we ended up nicking the ball and offered a catch in the slips,” he rued.

The party has also lined up various cultural organisations, urban bands and folk artists, to perform at EZCC during all five days of the puja with physical access to crowd, according to sources within the party.

But with the endorsement of the party’s top brass in Delhi and Prime Minister Modi deciding to be a part of the extravaganza, such differences are aberrations best ignored.

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