F Aiming to throw a serious challenge to the Trinamool Congress in next year’s panchayat poll ahead of the bigger battle in 2019, the BJP is looking at novel ways to court the masses. And what better way to reach a common Bengali’s heart than through fish, music and sports? So, the saffron brigade has lined up a fish festival, a music fest and two-month-long sports meets across the state to shore up its popularity among the masses.  In fact, the BJP has already started the ball rolling, organising football matches and cricket and kabaddi tournaments. Some of the associates of the BJP, who closely work with the party and Sangh Parivar, have planned to organise a fish festival.  “The people of Bengal love sports and music. From football to cricket, from kabaddi to carrom, people of this state love sports. So we decided to organise a two-month-long sports tournaments across the state. We have asked our youth wing to organise these festivals,” West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh told PTI.  According to the state BJP leadership, the tournaments and contests will be used to spread the message of development and progress being pursued by the Narendra Modi government.  A senior BJP leader said, “The cadre at the grassroot level have to be politically sound and physically fit in order to counter the hooligans of TMC.”  Apart from being an exercise to move closer to masses, the sports meets will also serve as a means to keep the cadre physically fit and proper to rise to the challenge posed by TMC cadre.  “Classes are being regularly taken to make them politically sound as well,” another senior leader said. In order to attract women to the saffron fold, the women’s wing of BJP has been asked to organise festival of patriotic songs from August 1. Perhaps the easiest way to gain attention of a Bengali is to treat him with Hilsa fish, the universal favourite. So a Hilsa festival is looming in the horizon too.  “This year the production of Hilsa is not that good. So we will wait out this month,” another senior BJP leader said. “We are accused of being ignorant about Bengal’s culture and heritage and that we are party of traders. So, we think such events will help us dispel the misconception,” a state BJP leader said. : 20th. July,17



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