In what could put even the Hindi heartland to shame, Bengal watched two of the State’s most formidable political opponents competing each other over the Ram Navami pie ahead of the second round of general elections.
In an unprecedented show of affection for the God of valour, both Trinamool Congress and BJP on Saturday and Sunday descended on the streets, clad in saffron dresses, even as a confused lot of voters watched genuine electoral issues shifting to the backburner.
While in Kanthi, TMC MP, Dibyebdu Adhikary, performed a public puja before his supporters took out processions chanting religious songs in the neighbouring Kharagpur. State BJP president, Dilip Ghosh, threw electoral norms to the winds even as he publicly exhibited his capabilities with the sword and mace.
“This is our tradition. We are Hindus and worshippers of Lord Rama the God of valour and power. We have all the right to follow our tradition with fanfare: elections or not. We dare the Government or anyone else to stop us and feel the consequence,” he said even as he rattled the saber and mace in air.
At Birbhum the parliamentary constituency presided over by TMC strongman Anubrata Mandal the TMC leaders including a State Minister performed public offerings of the pooja even as his followers took out long processions down the windy streets of Siuri and Bolpur.
Ram Navami not a major festival in Bengal until its electoral value was driven home a couple of years ago was celebrated with much fanfare in Bankura, Purulia and Howrah too where the politicians played to the gallery as never before even as the Left and the Congress cried foul.
Apparently cramped by Marxist agnosticism CPI(M) general Sitaram Yechury on Sunday cried out seeking Election Commission’s attention to "blatant breaking of model code of conduct."
“Most unfortunately” the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are feeding each other and dividing the electorate along communal lines, he said. “This communal division is leaving little space for the democratic, secular politics which is an alarming trend for a State like Bengal,” he said holding Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee solely responsible for “degeneration of the State politics.”
Meanwhile, the BJP on Sunday demanded a foolproof measure to enable voters to cast their votes in the remaining six phases of polling in Bengal.
“We have seen how the voters were stopped from coming to booths, how polling was rigged in booths manned by the State police,” both in Coochbehar and Alipurduar while the armed TMC gangs took control of the streets, BJP observer for Bengal Kailash Vijaybargiya said demanding full CCTV coverage for the electoral sites.
“We want all the pooling stations to be covered by CCTV and all of them to be manned by central forces in the subsequent phases of polling,” he said. The BJP leaders had earlier staged a dharna at the Chief Elect oral Officer’s office in Kolkata demanding re-poll in more than 300 booths of Alipurduar and Coochbehar.