With microphones ruled out of the election campaigns this time round because of the Board examinations, politicians seem to be focused on walking and talking. From Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to Young Turk Fuad Halim, CPI(M) candidate from the Ballygunge constituency, who is walking at least five km a day in two spells — early morning and early evening — candidates are being forced to take to the streets to ensure that their messages reach the masses.
“I’m doing a lot of door-to-door campaigning in slum areas. It’s impossible to travel by car in these places. Besides, I’m a ‘walking person’ and like to cover miles on foot,” Halim told HT.
Before the polls were announced, Halim, a medical practitioner, used a cycle a few kilometres every day to keep fit.
Banerjee, herself, has been walking about six km a day on each of her padayatras. She walks on a treadmill regularly and eats very small portions to stay trim and fit.
Trinamool candidate Sasi Panja, contesting from the Shyampukur constituency, says she walks more than 12 km a day in two spells. “I can’t reach out to a large number of people unless I knock on every door. As for my stamina, I think I owe it to a fat-free diet, plenty of fluids and half an hour of yoga every day,” Panja told HT.
Rupa Bagchi, CPI(M) candidate from Manicktala, is also walking through the underdeveloped areas of her constituency for hours at a stretch.
“My mother regularly gives me water and batasha so that my body stays hydrated during the long spells in the sun,” she said.
Another first-time CPI(M) candidate, Shatarup Ghosh, who is contesting from Kasba and is pitted against Trinamool’s Javed Khan, is also walking for hours at a time.
“I walk for eight to nine kilometres every day. As for my fitness, I used to jog near the Ballygunge Lakes on a regular basis before the polls were announced. I’m also a regular trekker,” said the 25-year-old candidate.