Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shifts his focus to West Bengal (Picture: ANI)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata via video conferencing on Thursday as the five-day celebrations begin in West Bengal amid the pandemic.

PM Modi virtually inaugurated a pandal that BJP has set up in Salt Lake in Kolkata at a cultural centre run by the Union Ministry of Culture.

BJP made elaborate arrangements for the live-viewing of the PM’s virtual address to the people. TV screens were put up in all the 78,000 election booth areas across the state.

In his address, PM Modi paid tribute to various Bengali icons and attempted some Bengali while addressing the virtual inauguration of the Durga puja pandal. The 5-day Durga Puja celebrations is the biggest cultural festival that is held in the state. “The festival of Durga Puja is a festival that reflects the unity and strength of India. It is also a reflection of the traditions and culture that comes from Bengal,” he said.

Focused on women, PM Modi praised Bengal and Bengalis and added that his government’s policy like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padao” has helped the women in the state, “Women are the symbol of Maa Durga; we are working towards the empowerment of women through various policies and schemes,” he said. PM Modi also said that the government is alert about women’s security and laws against rape will be strengthened, culprits may even get the death penalty as punishment.

While singing the praise for the state he added that the state should not ignore precautions that have been placed to control Covid infections in the state. His address comes a day the Calcutta High Court allowed ‘Dhakis’ at the Durga Puja pandals. The new norms now state that larger pandals – which have an area of more than 300 sq metre – can list up to 60 people however no more than 45 people will be allowed at a time. The smaller pandals can list up to 15 people.

Many are reading into the importance of his address to the Bengali population ahead of the elections that will happen in 2021. BJP has plans to remove Trinamool Congress in the next year’s elections which have stayed in power since 2011 after a resounding victory in previous elections.


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