7 shades of political activism in Bengal

As elections are knocking in the door, every party in India is looking for political activists to cover the crucial “last mile”. Some party like BJP even has a gratification programme where the karyakarta with highest amount of connectivity gets to meet Narendra Modi. Just like there is plethora of political parties, there are different types of activist in looks and nature. In the politically aware ideologically divided state of Bengal, the fault lines between the workers and supporters of different parties are pretty stark. Everyone can also be an activist, geographical barriers no bar. We are looking at some major shades of political activism, tongue firmly in cheek.

The Jholawala

They are an unmistakable lot. Irrespective of gender, they dress alike, think alike. They wear long Punjabi kurtas with the traditional jhola bag. The bag may carry anything from the Das Kapital, rosogolla from K. C. Das to candles for spontaneous protests. From invasion in Afghanistan to referendum in Crimea, they ALWAYS have a world view. Integral part of any michil (procession), always very sedate, till the time they see the police ready to intercept them. Then they behave like a bull which has seen a red flag.

The bleeding heart liberal
These are mostly the left liberals. Normally they are clean shaven with spectacles. They might have their IPads snugged in their jeans, but down with American imperialism is their key word. To be found in large numbers at elite college campuses, they often discuss the beauties of Maoist politics during breaks in G.R.E preparation.

The high-tech activist

They swear by their MacBooks. Every time you meet them, a crash course in Obama’s re-election model is inevitable. Also the P.R strategy of rival party and how media is a paid agent will be inevitably mentioned. Most likely to be a supporter of two of the major political parties, these activists spend more time in strategizing than actual campaign in the ground.

The Facebook revolutionaries

They want to change the world, particularly Bengal. But unfortunately they are no longer in the state residing comfortably in Bengaluru or Boston. But with Facebook, they are always willing to give their fellow comrade an advice or two. Sentences like System ta poche geche, ekta massive change dorkar (System is rotten, a huge change is needed) can be heard very often from the Probashi Bangali (non-resident bengali).

The Weekend politicians

They normally belong to the new kid in the block AAP or some non-descript political organisations. Normally they have some real jobs (read: not social media consultants). They are a bit gawky and naive when it comes to giving quotes to the media. They dress like normal people so often the topi is their only distinguishable political feature!!

The whole timers

For them politics is a day job. From the GDP figures in Bengal to infant mortality rate in Gujarat everything is in their fingertips ready to be shared with the media. Depending on the stance of their party, they can swing from being secular to communal and vice versa with panache which would put David Beckham’s free kick to shame. The articulate once even graduate to being T.V shows’ intellectuals.

The foot soldiers

They are not the privileged ones. They don’t have the luxury to escape to their real world, once the curtains come down on the political circus. Often used by politicians, they get the rough end of the stick. The real aam admi, the foot soldiers are the easily dispensable ones who can be tossed aside once the work is done. Thus often the leaders rise up the hierarchy, while these enthusiastic supporters are left languishing in jail or wilderness.

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