West Bengal: Determined Intensive Campaign by Morcha
From Our Special Correspondent in Kolkata
THE spurge in Covid pandemic has added new features in electioneering in West Bengal. Sanjukta Morcha led the way by declaring that it would not organise big rallies anymore, except for the few which was decided much earlier. Morcha campaign, on the contrary, has turned more intensive, door to door following Covid rules. Both BJP and TMC have initially mocked the decision, and leaders of both parties continued with their mass meetings. The prime minister has even boasted of a ‘huge’ gathering in his rally while the entire country was suffering from galloping cases. The restrictions issued by the election commission are contradictory in nature when they banned rallies and roadshows from 7 pm to 10 am while allowing it in the day time. It has been alleged that it was done to facilitate the campaign by PM and Amit Shah, as well as Mamata Banerjee, all of whom address their meetings in the daytime.
Another feature of this year’s campaign is that Modi –Shah are addressing public meetings even during the voting day in the state. Their speeches are being telecast live while voters in nearby seats are voting. Despite repeated appeals, the election commission has taken no steps to stop this immoral and unethical practice.
The role of the election commission has come into question on many grounds including the use of central forces. It is not clear whether the forces are strictly under their control or not. They have failed to initiate an enquiry and take actions till date on the firing incident in Sitalkuchi where five persons were killed on the voting day.
Sanjukta Morcha has changed the pattern of the campaign at a time when massive mobilisations were witnessed in their campaign. Thousands of people attended Sanjukta Morcha rallies whether it was noon in bitter summer heat or past midnight. Apart from leading Left leaders, young faces like Minakshi Mukherjee drew huge crowds. Sanjukta Morcha in their campaign has tried to put forward issues of livelihoods, employment, the farmers’ question, demands of women- the real issues of people. Morcha conducted a determined campaign against communal polarisation, Hindutva political ideology and anti-people economic policies of the Modi government. One of the major components of the Morcha campaign is the defence of Bengal’s legacy of progressive, democratic, secular culture. The most notable feature of the campaign is the spontaneous and unprecedented participation of youth in favour of the Sanjukta Morcha. They have contributed in innovative ways, attracting people outside the Left periphery and even played a major role in election organisation on voting days.