Mughals to Mamata and now BJP: Politics at the heart of Durga Puja

BJP, Durga Puja, Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress, Pandal, Puja Committee
Attempts to ride piggyback on Durga puja to make inroads into the Bengali hearts have a long history. Image - Eunice Dhivya

Every year, despite the ravages of time, autumn stirs up a strange mix of nostalgia and mirth in 83-year-old Ghanshyam Biswas. A resident of South Kolkata's famed Kalighat, Biswas likes to soak in the warmth of memories — of pleasant mornings and lazy afternoons, starlit nights and the fragrance of shiuli blossoms (the flowering night jasmine) strewn over the ground.

All this, he says, heralds one thing — Durga Puja. But time, he says, has not been very kind to both Kalighat and Durga Puja celebrations. "Now, puja also means bitter political fights," he adds.

Months before Bengalis could bask in the quintessential “pujo-pujo” sense of bliss this year, the ruling Trinamool Congress and its main challenger, the BJP, got into a bitter fight over control of puja committees in West Bengal.

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