The interactivity bug, it seems, have bitten politicians of all hues in West Bengal. Now, the poll mantra is to get closer to the people and counter their misgivings – be it from the comfort zone of television studios or open-air street gatherings.
With Bengali television news channels anxious to raise their prime time ratings before the elections, the Left Front constituents and the Trinamool Congress are losing no opportunity to extract the maximum out of this competition.
The bandwagon got rolling about a week ago when two rival channels went to town by putting Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his bete noir Mamata Banerjee on the same evening timeslot.
While Bhattacharjee took questions from the people who called up the studio, the other channel went live with Mamata’s girl-next-door image. For the viewer, it was reality TV at its best. And for the rivals, nothing could be more convenient than getting into millions of homes so easily.
After studying the feedback on Bhattacharjee’s live show, the CPI(M) state committee asked all candidates and campaigners at its pre-poll meeting on Friday last to stop delivering long and boring monologues and invite questions, instead. The party feels that this could help counter the charges of autocracy its leaders often face.
The Front partners are also following suit. The state secretaries of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Forward Bloc and the CPI agreed for the first time to attend a television live show on Friday evening.
News channel sources, who did not wish to be identified, said efforts were on for the mother of all shows – Bhattacharjee versus Mamata. They last faced each other in the presence of Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on September 13, 2008, a week before Tata Motors chief Ratan Tata decided to close down the Nano factory at Singur.