With India’s Election Commission getting strict with its Model Code Of Conduct, political parties are having a tough time during the ongoing parliamentary elections where more than 700 million voters exercise their franchise. Compared to previous years, one hardly sees posters and banners while walking down the streets.
In the eastern state of West Bengal where the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front is facing the biggest challenge to its three decade old rule, things were not much different at the beginning with all sides restricted to putting up a few hoardings at some select junctions and few posters here and there. However, now the communists seem to slowly getting an edge over their rivals.
In slums and lower middle class areas of Kolkata, one sees the red flag with hammer and sickle hanging on the front porch of many houses. However whether this show of support is voluntary or result of coercion is debatable. The CPI-M affliated trade union CITU has unleashed its full strength in supporting its parent organisation. The CITU runs the trade unions in vitually all trades in the state. This is most visible in form of three-wheeler auto-rickshaws with the red CITU flags (which incidently has the same hammer and sickle with the word CITU at the edge) plying everywhere in the city. Also, CITU’s trade unions in various firms have put up their own hoardings supporting the policies of the leftists and reminding people about the evils of capitalism. Apparently none of these are breaking the campaign rules since they apply only to the individual candidates and their parties but nothing restricts individual sympathisers and independent organisations from expressing their support. None of these surrogate campaigns actually mention the name of CPI-M or its candidates though their message is more than apparent. Now all that remains to be seen is how much of this will actually translate into votes when the results are out.