March 26, 2009


KOLKATA(INN): Motoring down the Barrackpore expressway this morning (25 March 2009), two fascinating scenes drew our attention. First, at various places on the two sides of the broad avenue, we found Trinamuli and Pradesh Congress election banners, graffiti, and posters overwhelming the side of all sorts of government buildings as well as of other structures including CPI(M) election offices!!.

This is in clear violation of the concerned rules read with the EC regulations in this regard. Nevertheless, who cares anyway, in a parliamentary seat (15-Barrackpore) where the popularity of the hammer-and-sickle is legendary for decades together now, and the candidate himself is a veteran TU leader-- and the new-found Trinamuli candidate, a fresh import from the posh environs of the capital, is perhaps a sure loser.

The second sight that almost forced our attention was a curious one, a very curious one, indeed, and it showed the bad taste that the Trinamulis have grown up with, to mature and fructify, come the polls. We saw vast-sized, garishly coloured photos of Mamata Banerjee and the state governor together in gigantic hoardings all across the township of Bhatpara. We would not know if any of the two featured together had registered their protest with anybody, but the Bengal CPI (M) has drawn the urgent attention of the full bench of the EC to the crass violation of norms, electoral or otherwise perpetrated here.

This brings us nicely to the vying with the Trinamulis, for overturning the election code, by the Pradesh Congress. We have received reports earlier that the morning of 25 March saw the two brothers of the late A. B. A. Ghani Khan Chaudhuri descending on the township of Maldah with a roaring-at-full-throttle fleet of 50-odd massed motorbikes—each carrying the Congress election symbol. Noise pollution, what do you mean? However, more is involved here than meets the ears.

As the Bengal CPI(M) has not lost time in writing to the ECI, this demonstration of massed engine horsepower also violates the electoral regulation that says that such convoys must prominently display on their respective windshields the permit for such a motorcade (in this case, what, a motorbicade?) to be organised, and it contravenes the other concerned rule that lays down that any large convoy of motorised vehicles taking part in an election campaign, must be broken up in small groups with at least 200 metres worth of distance between the groups. On both counts, the Pradesh Congress could not care less.

Then again, once the Trinamul Congress takes the plunge in brushing election rules brusquely aside can the ‘mothership’ called the Pradesh Congress wallow silent in obeisance of forms and norms, electoral or otherwise.

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