The sweet irony here on the last day of polls in Bengal brought to mind the old ‘happy ending’ in Indian cinema.
Lalgarh, a Maoist hotspot about 160 km west of Kolkata, a place that has been the cause of embittering the already rancorous relations between the ruling CPM and the Trinamool, saw members of the rival parties having lunch together at local Left leader Tarun Banerjee’s house on Tuesday. And they were joined by two polling agents of jailed Maoist sympathiser Chhatradhar Mahato, a candidate and an even more bitter critic of the Left than Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
In September 2010, Tarun Banerjee was shot by Maoists, who, the CPM alleges, are hand-in-glove with Mahato. He recovered after a two-month treatment at a private hospital in Kolkata.
Before the food came the beverage. After a tiring morning in the sun, the polling agents of local Trinamool candidate Sukumar Hansda and those of Mahato had lager beer.
The menu was bhaat (rice), uchhe bhaja (bitter gourd fry), dhnarosh bhaja (ladies finger fry), shaak bhaja (saag), paanchmeshali ghanto (mixed vegetable), lau diye daal (dal with pumpkin), alu posto (potato curry), chicken curry and chutney.
“On polling day, or the day of counting, I have to cook lunch for at least 25 CPM workers. Therefore, I did not have to cook extra for the four visitors. This should be the ideal atmosphere for politics,” said Tarun Banerjee’s wife, Samasree.
Tarun Banerjee sounded satisfied. “This never happened on a poll-day, though all political parties in Lalgarh have the tradition of arranging meals for their workers and voters during the day of election. However, the Election Commission has barred such arrangement this time,” he said.