Kolkata | Stung by poor show in the Lok Sabha polls, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday launched a party helpline number and a website in a bid to reach out to the masses.
Launching the 10-digit helpline number — 9137091370 — and the website www.didikebolo.com at Nazrul Manch here, she said Trinamool Congress leaders and workers will fan out across the state, spend time with people and listen to their complaints.
“Over the next 100 days, more than 1,000 party leaders and workers will reach out to 10,000 villages in the state, spend days there with local people and try and address their grievances,” Mamata Banerjee said.
“People can get in touch with us directly on the helpline number and the website and speak about issues afflicting them. We will try and address them. They can share their opinion and views with us. They can directly speak with us,” Mamata Banerjee told reporters here after a meeting with TMC MLAs and senior party functionaries.
According to TMC sources, the massive outreach programme is a brainchild of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, whose organisation Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) has been recently appointed by the ruling party in West Bengal to prepare its strategy for 2021 Assembly polls.
However, when asked whether the programme has been launched with an eye on the 2021 state elections, the party supremo answered in the negative and said her party takes various initiatives to reach out to common people.
“Assembly polls are still 20 months away. It (the outreach programme) is not aimed at the state elections,” she said.
This is for the first time that the TMC has come up with a helpline number and a website to reach out to the public and address their grievances. The step comes just months after the party’s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, where it lost much ground to the BJP.
The TMC’s tally in 2019 parliamentary elections polls came down to 22 from 34 in 2014. On the other hand, the saffron party made massive inroads in West Bengal by winning 18 Lok Sabha seats out of a total 42 and bagging 40.5 per cent votes.
Buoyed by its stupendous show, BJP leaders have been asserting that their aim now is to dislodge the TMC from power. The Trinamool Congress has been in power since 2011 when they ended the CPI(M)-led Left Front’s 34-year-old rule in the state.
A senior TMC leader said, “Prashant Kishor is behind the massive outreach programme. The feedback of this outreach programme will be scrutinised by Kishor and his team, who in turn will use it to prepare the party’s strategy and tap the loopholes.”
Members of I-PAC were seen at Nazrul Manch during the TMC meeting.
During the closed-door meeting with her party MLAs and senior functionaries, Banerjee exuded confidence about making a turnaround in the Assembly polls, sources said.
“Our party supremo Mamata Banerjee told us to reach out to the masses and shun the VIP culture,” a senior TMC MLA said, adding she also asked us to bring the old-timers back to the party party and, apologise, if mistakes have been committed in the past.