Kolkata: In Mamata Banerjee’s war against a strong anti-incumbency wave that brought her tally from 34 to 22 seats in the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, a social media makeover is the latest weapon.
The Trinamool Congress has relaunched Banerjee’s social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, which is full of gleaming and smart cartoons, under the name, “Amar Gorbo Mamata” (Mamata, My Pride).
Seen as political strategist Prashant Kishor’s latest game plan to re-stabilise Banerjee’s reign in Bengal, the page is an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures promoting the TMC government’s popular schemes and achievements. Old photos of the Chief Minister with politicians across political parties are also being shared from the handle to recall her relationship with them.
On August 16, the Twitter handle shared a conceptualised cartoon where Banerjee and her mother Gayatri Devi were seen sitting on the floor of her Kalighat residence with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to commemorate the BJP stalwart on his death anniversary.
In the picture, Vajpayee is seen accepting ‘Malpoa’ (Bengali pancake served as a dessert) from Devi while Banerjee expresses her gratitude to the former PM for coming to her house. While Banerjee paid respects to Vajpayee in her own way, the image was also a subtle reminder of her relationship with the tall leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
২০০০ সালে তৎকালীন প্রধানমন্ত্রী #AtalBihariVajpayee কালীঘাটে মমতা দিদির আধা পাকা বাড়িতে যান তাঁর মা গায়ত্রী দেবীর সাথে দেখা করতে। এতোটাই ছিল বিজেপি-র সর্বোচ্চ নেতা এবং দিদির মধ্যে ভালোবাসা, যা এখনকার নেতাদের কিছু কথার মাধ্যমে কলংকিত করা যাবে না। pic.twitter.com/gKCb1CMmqI— Aamar Gorbo Mamata (@AmarGorboMamata) August 16, 2019
In a slew of tweets, while one animated image shows rural West Bengal as open defecation free another highlights the government’s role in the growth of folk artists in Bengal.
The page posted a cartoon promoting the Banerjee-government's effort to make Bengal open-defecation free.
লোকপ্রসার প্রকল্পের মাধ্যমে তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস সরকার লোকশিল্পীদের প্রচার ও তাদের অর্থনৈতিক উন্নতির মাধ্যমে বাংলার লোকসংস্কৃতিকে পুনরুজ্জীবিত করেছে।August 16, 2019
A post on the growth of Bengali folk music during her tenure as the CM.
On August 13, a post takes a dig at the Centre’s Aadhar scheme with a caricature of Goddess Durga. ‘Will Ma Durga now need Aadhar and Pan Card to descend from Kailash? Would she need to pay taxes? We protest IT notices to Durga Puja Committees,’ the post said.
এবার কি মা দুর্গাকেও কৈলাশ থেকে আসার সময় আধার আর প্যান কার্ড নিয়ে আসতে হবে? মা দুর্গাকেও ট্যাক্স দিতে হবে? দুর্গাপুজো কমিটিগুলোকে আয়কর দপ্তরের নোটিসের তীব্র প্রতিবাদ জানাচ্ছি #RespectDurgaPujo #DurgaPujo pic.twitter.com/0TLgCSguP9— Aamar Gorbo Mamata (@AmarGorboMamata) August 13, 2019
The move is being construed as Kishor’s master plan to bring down the political temperature persisting in the state by communicating messages through social media cartoons. In a way, it once again has shifted attention towards those who are in opposition and criticising Banerjee’s temperament.
“We loved this mode of communication. It is actually hitting people’s mind quickly even as the political mood remains tense. Actually, cartoons and caricatures relax people and lighten a complex atmosphere. It is human psychology. It is the best way to communicate complex things in a simple way. Here, the rate of criticism is also less, unless the subject is highly objectionable. We really appreciate team PK’s idea behind this social media campaign,” a senior TMC leader said with conditions of anonymity.
As per team PK’s understanding, Banerjee’s image as a ‘firebrand politician’ amid accusation of appeasement politics was pushing her supporters towards BJP and thus, the happened the Chief Minister's makeover.
With Kishor’s counsel, Banerjee now comes across as much calmer and composed with limited media attention. Her statements are measured and she avoids live coverage during administrative meetings.
The change in her approach was glaring on Raksha Bandhan when Banerjee went to Raj Bhawan and tied a ‘Rakhi’ to Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has recently been appointed as the Governor of West Bengal. The Bengal CM has always been in loggerheads with the previous governors ever since she has come to power.
Besides, allowing the opposition parties to carry out their rallies in Bengal and tone down her language while referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, are another significant changes that Kishor recommended Banerjee.
“Take the example of Odisha. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik managed to secure his seat for more than a decade. He worked silently without too much of media attention and criticising the opposition party leaders. It helped him a lot and see the results. Similarly, Didi was asked to follow the same,” a party insider said.
In the midst of the successful launch of the ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ campaign on July 29, where the people of Bengal can directly contact their Chief Minister with their problems), Kishor’s team is confident that ‘Aamar Gorbo Mamata’ is certainly going to yield fruitful results.
]The Trinamool Congress believes that with Kishor as an adviser to Banerjee, the party can systemically vanquish the rise of the BJP in Bengal.