Elections in Bengal are heating up, quite literally. Temperatures have suddenly shot up, with mercury touching nearly 40 at Kolkata. This has put a major spanner in election campaigning for major political parties.
Not only is the heat brutal, also it is very unlike the summer people normally experience here. It is not sweaty, humid weather. Rather an intense heat wave is blowing across the state. If Met Department is to be believed, this is only the beginning of the tyranny. Temperature is not likely to come down any time soon, with no indication of Kalbaisakhi ( Nor’wester) in sight. Thus, the agony is slated to continue.
Bengal will have five phase polls starting on April 17 to May 12. In the first phase only 4 Loksabha seats of Darjeeling, Coch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar are scheduled to go to polls. Thus most candidates still have fair amount of time in their hands. But with weather forecasted to be more hostile and 4 way contests in most seats, candidates are not letting up on campaign.
In this heat, the bhumiputras (son of the soil) are getting a bit of an advantage and they are enjoying it to the hilt. In Asansol, CPIM MP Bangsogopal Chaudhury is unperturbed by the heat. He emphasises on the fact that he is accustomed to such temperature. But his other competitors seem to be facing the heat literally. Star singer Babul Supriyo contesting in a BJP ticket has cut down on his campaign time. Didi’s trusted aide Dola Sen has gone on a frugal meal of curd and rice to be physically fit.
Even if some candidates are willing to go the extra yard to reach the electorates, the karyakartas don’t seem particularly enthused. CPIM candidate from Howrah Srideep Bhattacharya found out that very few comrades were willing to accompany him in a hot Sunday afternoon. Having lost a by-election just 6 months back, Srideep is desperate to wrest the seat back from TMC. Thus he has decided that from now afternoons will be dedicated to connect with young voters via social media.
It seems like bigger is the celebrity, greater is his/her pangs about the weather. For Moon Moon Sen, best known for being daughter of legendary actress Suchitra Sen TMC has arranged for an A.C accommodation. She is contesting election from Bankura one of the driest place in Bengal. She will be campaigning from Tuesday and party workers are already sceptical. Thus most of the campaign will only be done after sundown. She is up against veteran M.P Basudev Acharya, who refuses to give any importance to the sudden heat wave.
In Indian politics, Rahul Gandhi at the age of 42 is deemed as youth leader. Hence it’s a no brainer that many of the candidates in fray are quite aged notwithstanding the coat of dye in their hair. Some of them have serious health complications. Somen Mitra , Congress candidate from Kolkata North constituency has already undergone bypass surgery. He has decided to take it easy when the heat gets unforgiving. Some like Congress candidate Manas Bhuinya is keeping a brave face. He boldly declares that he has contested in 31 elections so far and heat will be no impediment to his campaign!!
The doctors though are not too sure. They are advicing candidates to exercise restraint and beware of sun stroke. There are quite a few doctors like RamChandra Dom and Mortaja Hossain in fray this election. They are also maintaining caution to be fit for the long haul. There is an old Bengali saying Kosto na korle Kesto mele na (You don’t get to meet Krishna, if u don’t toil hard). It is proving to be every bit true this time around.