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After Durga Puja, Lakshmi puja organised by BJP in Bengal

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Kolkata, Oct 31: After organising a Durga Puja for the first time in West Bengal, the BJP on Friday performed its maiden Lakshmi Puja in an attempt to reach out to the people of the state ahead of next year's assembly elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the people of the state while inaugurating the BJP's Durga Puja at the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in Salt Lake area on the eastern fringes of Kolkata on Maha Shashti on October 22.

After Durga Puja, Lakshmi puja organised by BJP in Bengal

"As we had organised Durga Puja this year, we decided to perform Lakshmi Puja too. There is a tradition of organising Lakshmi Puja in a marquee where Durga Puja was performed," BJP state vice-president Pratap Banerjee said.

He said the rituals were performed by the activists of the Mahila Morcha, the women's wing of the party.

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"The COVID-19 protocol and social distancing norms were adhered to," Banerjee said.

Mahila Morcha activists clad in traditional Bengali attire were seen offering 'bhog' to the goddess.

Mahila Morcha state chief Agnimitra Paul said the activists prayed to the goddess to free the state from the "reign of terror".

"We prayed to the goddess to free West Bengal from the reign of terror, to bring back industries to the state and ensure the safety of women," Paul said.

The BJP's decision to organise Lakshmi Puja is an attempt to reach out to the Bengali masses and shed its "party from the Hindi heartland" tag, party sources said.

The Trinamool Congress, however, criticised the BJP for trying to "politicise" Lakshmi Puja.

"Lakshmi Puja is organised in every household but no political party performs it. The BJP is trying to politicise a religious event," TMC MP Saugata Roy said.

Meanwhile, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh and party general secretary Sayantan Basu performed 'Ganga Arati' at Kashipur Ghat in north Kolkata.

Actors Debolina Kumar and Aparajito Adhya, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy and TMC MP Mala Roy were among those who worshipped Goddess Lakshmi at their homes.

Priests conducted the rituals in many households in the evening with adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.

Women read out the 'Lakhmir Panchali' to family members gathered around the idols or photographs of the goddess.

The goddess was also worshipped in many Durga Puja marquees.

"Let there be happiness and prosperity at every home," Mamata Banerjee tweeted on the occasion.

The COVID-19 pandemic cast a shadow over the celebration in rural parts of Howrah district, where big community pujas are organised.

Puja committees shunned pomp and grandeur and fewer people hit the village roads, unlike previous years.

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    Kojagari Lakshmi Puja falls on a full moon night after Vijaya Dashami and is widely celebrated in West Bengal and other parts of eastern India.

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