“Elections are run by the Public Relations industry, which markets candidates much as it markets commodities in TV ads.”~ Noam Chomsky.
Politics is the art of possibility. In the modern age, it is also a lot to do with calibrated Public Relations mechanism. From election war rooms monitoring social media traction to think tanks working on the demographic profile, the whole exercise has undergone a significant makeover. But as a wily politician always knows nothing still beats the personal touch; the warm hug, the witty banter and the empathy to hear at other people’s sorrow. Like any clever people our politicians don’t let go any chance of socialising, especially when elections are only a shade over month to go. Thus, on Holi, we saw politicians across all parties enjoying the festivities with their target group i.e., voters. It was “Bura na mano Holi hain aur vote bhi”!
Unlike in parts of North India and Western India, Holi is a relatively sombre affair in Bengal. Also it is mostly only played with abir. It is widely celebrated as “Dol Yatra” just a day before Holi. Thus most of Bengal celebrated Holi on Sunday, though the festivities are continuing even today. The politicians have also joined in the reverie. From North to South Bengal, almost the same scenario was seen in every constituency. Officially though most said Holi or Dol is about making new friends and acquaintances. It should not be assumed that they are indulging in festivities only for the sake of votes!
In Darjeeling, Baichung Bhutia is locked in a very tight battle. He has his work cut out with Gorkha JanaMukti Morcha supporting the BJP candidate. He was seen playing Holi with commoners and local TMC strongman Goutam Dev. Baichung recollected fondly the memories of playing colours in his football days back in Kolkata. Social activist and theatre personality Arpita Ghosh was also seen to be in a jovial mood playing with people from her constituency. BJP candidate Tathagata Ray attended a Hasya Sanmelan (Laughter conference) in South Kolkata. Not only BJP and Congress even CPI(M) candidates were found to be fully soaking in the excitement. Normally the left leaders are known to have a bit of a serious image. Hence it was refreshing to see the likes of Sujan Chakrabarty, Rupa Bagchi, Rinku Nashkar etc., let go of all their inhibitions and totally soaking in the festive atmosphere.
As expected, most of the politicians preferred their traditional party colours even while applying abir (gulal). Thus for the left candidates it was predominantly red, and green for Congress and Trinamool Congress candidates. But in a whole there was a spirit of bonhomie. In some places, cadres of opposite political parties were seen to be applying colour on each other. Party campaigners also distributed sweets in many areas, a traditional Holi ritual. Some though pointed out that distributing sweets etc may be a violation of the model code of conduct. Almost across the state police was in high alert to prevent any sort of possible disturbances. But thankfully nothing of that sort was reported.
Political parties in some places also arranged for community get together to play Holi and enjoy the day. It was a day of soft peddling of political ideas, low on rhetoric high on festivities. By now all the major parties except Congress have declared their complete candidate list. INC is also slated to do it in a few days. Who will be the last men and women in the victory stand smeared with abir and rose petals will be only known on 16th May. Till then, let the good spirit linger on!