Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress is undertaking a makeover of its 17-year-old weekly mouthpiece Jago Bangla (Arise Bengal), with the changes including a digital edition and a dedicated new section on national politics that seek to project the party’s “Delhi ambitions”.
First published in 2004, Jago Bangla is currently a five-to-six-page weekly. It will be relaunched as a 16-page digital-first daily. The digital launch on 21 July will be followed by a “print edition” at the earliest, sources in the Trinamool Congress told ThePrint. The national section is tentatively titled ‘Dilli Darbar’, they added.
In its current form, the mouthpiece includes opinion pieces, short interviews of senior Trinamool leaders or ministers, articles on Mamata Banerjee’s policies, and her speeches. The relaunch comes just over two months after the party swept to a third consecutive term in West Bengal.
“The seat of power in Delhi wants Didi, and we need to inform voters about the anti-people policies of the Modi government. To counter the false claims made by the opposition, we need to reach more people with the real news,” said a top leader of the Trinamool Congress while explaining the need to relaunch the party’s mouthpiece in a new format.
According to the sources, as “directed by party supremo Mamata Banerjee and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee”, the newspaper will remain free of advertisements, whether government or private. It will be run on party funds, donations and voluntary contributions. While the digital edition will be free of cost, the print one will have a “cover price”, said a member of Jago Bangla’s editorial board.
Trinamool state general secretary Kunal Ghosh, a former Rajya Sabha MP and journalist, said Jago Bangla is “going to be a composite newspaper”.
“Apart from the view of the party, it will have special pages on Bengal’s culture, social tradition, information on government schemes and incidents that people should be aware of,” he added. “It will have sports and entertainment pages too. But our primary focus will be the party’s policies. There will be dedicated pages on national politics.”
Ghosh said the relaunch follows “feedback from our workers and supporters” who have been “demanding a daily newspaper that will reach a cross-section of people with real news and public policies”.
“We need to counter the false claims made by the opposition parties too. That is why Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek decided to relaunch it in the form of a daily newspaper,” said Ghosh.
A second senior Trinamool leader who is associated with the publication but didn’t wish to be named placed the relaunch in the context of the party’s desire to go beyond Bengal.
“Since the party has got a huge mandate in the state, the next step for us is to aim for Delhi. For that, we need to make people aware of Modi’s anti-people policies,” the leader added.
“The BJP got around 2.28 crore votes in Bengal. We need to make them understand why they should not vote for Modi anymore. The newspaper will deconstruct and simplify national politics for our rural masses. We need to reach booth-level workers and supporters through this,” the leader said.
The special page on national politics is titled ‘Dilli Darbar’, the leader added. “This page will have news related to politics and policies of the central government. We have almost decided the name, it may change later.”
West Bengal Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee, who is the party’s secretary general, will remain the chief editor of Jago Bangla. It will be published from Trinamool Bhavan, which is currently being renovated. The publication will have bureaux across districts and hiring is on, said the second leader quoted above.
Jago Bangla courted controversy in December last year when its name came up in a 277-page plea filed by the CBI before the Supreme Court in connection with the Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scam cases.
In a section titled “Jago Bangla and the paintings”, the CBI wrote, “Jago Bangla, admittedly, a weekly newspaper and the mouthpiece of All India Trinamool Congress, sold a number of paintings, purportedly drawn by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of State of West Bengal to promoters of Ponzi companies during year 2011-2013.
“It has come on record that not only M/s Saradha paid funds to the said mouthpiece but other ponzi companies like M/s Rose Valley Group; M/s Tower Group; M/s Pailan Group; M/s Angel Agro Group have also bought paintings worth lakhs of rupees steered by certain persons linked to the highest state authorities. It is submitted that except cases against M/s Saradha Group, the state SIT never investigated any case against any other group of ponzi companies as mentioned,” the CBI added in its plea.
The Trinamool Congress had hit back at the allegations, questioning the CBI’s intentions behind the petition, and accusing it of a shoddy investigation and “political intimidation”.
“Every time, a few months before elections, the skeletons of the chit fund investigation tumble out. If this is not political vendetta or ways to intimidate one’s political opponent, then what is?” Trinamool MP and senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee said.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)