A Trinamool Congress legislator on Saturday stoked controversy by calling the ruling party in West Bengal a “company” and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a “brand”.
The comment drew sarcastic remarks from BJP leaders, who said he has “spoken the truth”, while the TMC tried to downplay his comment, saying his choice of words was inappropriate but his intent wasn’t.
Howrah North MLA Goutam Chowdhury, while addressing a press conference, said, “Didi (as Banerjee is popularly called) is the brand with whom none else can be equated.” “The TMC is a company whose brand is our leader, our Didi, Mamata Banerjee. We are non-entities. One can say we are medical representatives of a pharmaceutical firm. Didi is everything,” Chowdhury said.
He was among TMC leaders holding press meets on ‘Didir Suraksha Kavach’ outreach programme, and was speaking on how Banerjee reached out to people with the welfare projects.
Reacting to the comment, BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Everyone knows Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee are everything in the TMC. No one else has a voice. Chowdhury has unwittingly affirmed that truth once again.” TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, however, said, “Chowdhury wanted to talk about the popularity of Mamata Banerjee but his choice of words was not appropriate. He has been cautioned to be more careful in the future while speaking.” Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari had on several occasions earlier called TMC a private limited company and Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee as its director and managing director respectively.
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“There is only one post in the TMC, others are lamp posts,” he had earlier said, alluding to Mamata Banerjee.
TMC has organised district and assembly constituency-level press meets on the outreach programme in the last few days.
Addressing a press conference in Rashbehari assembly constituency, Kolkata Dakshin MP Mala Roy said, “We have seen instances of people unable to get benefits of government schemes either due to technical error or some mistakes in their application.” “In order to address these issues, ‘Didir doots’ (messengers of Didi) will reach out to every household and solve the problems so that people don’t face delay in availing government benefits,” she added.
Rashbehari MLA Debashish Kumar, after unveiling the logo of the outreach programme, said 15 schemes including Khadya Sathi, Banglar Awas Yojana, Nijo Griha Nijo Bhumi, Swasthya Sathi, Kanyashree, Sikshashree, Aikyashree, Student Credit Card, Lakshmir Bhandar, Krishak Bandhu, Samajik Suraksha Yojana, Manabik Pension, Jai Bangla Pension Scheme, Bidhaba Bhata and Yuvashree will be covered under the outreach programme.
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Addressing another press conference in Kashipur-Belgachhia assembly constituency, local MLA Atin Ghosh said TMC leaders, including lawmakers, will spend 10 nights each in rural areas, listening to people’s grievances.
They will cover 3,343 anchal (region) across the state over the next two months. The TMC will start the campaign on January 11.
TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had earlier said party workers will reach out to people across the state and ensure everyone avails the welfare schemes of the state government.
Panchayat elections are due in the state this year.