Poll math and God's hand

Published on Mar 24, 2006 02:09 AM IST

Thank God for elections and thank God for politicians who take them beyond the analysts and psephologists and jazz them up with the right mix of style and superstition.

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None | By, Kolkata

Thank God for elections and thank God for politicians who take them beyond the analysts and psephologists and jazz them up with the right mix of style and superstition.

Take Mamata Banerjee. These days, this devotee of Maa Kali doesn't miss her Lakshmi puja at her 30 B, Harish Chatterjee Street home in the evenings. And before she hits the campaign trail, she visits the Kalighat temple and the Dakshineswar temple at dawn. The Mazhar at Phurphura Sharif in Hooghly is a definite halt. Pujas over, she begins her campaign in her favourite black Santro or black Scorpio. And all this in her election-special black-bordered sarees.
Mamata's bete noire Subrata Mukherjee loves his white ambassador and steel grey Scorpio.

Subrata is also a Maa Kali devotee and so kickstarts his election campaigns from Lake Kalibari in Southern Avenue. He also does rounds of the Jagannath Temple in Puri. And you won't catch him in anything but a white or lemon yellow kurta during elections. "I am the most superstitious politician of Bengal," he says with a smile.

The pony-tailed Ajit Panja, who has a penchant for big, new cars, will hit the road in his Toyota Innova. Last time, he had a Hyundai Accent. Panja, too, has discovered his devout self and does the temple circuit.

Former PCC chief Soumen Mitra will only be seen in his white Maruti and insists on sitting beside the driver. Dressed in whites — kurta, dhoti and chappal — he is a regular visitor at the Thonthone Kalibari and Kalighat temples. "During elections, I spend at least an hour every day praying in front of Kali Maa," he says.

Congress's Pranab Mukherjee has always stuck to the latest and finest model of the white ambassador for the polls. But his younger party colleague Manas Bhuniya prefers his motorcycle. How about this: he stops shaving the day he files his nomination and goes around with his stubble till the election ends.

And then, for the chief minister. No, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee doesn't turn religious, neither is he superstitious. But those close to him say he tends to smoke more cigarettes during elections.

Here's what CPM's maverick leader Subhas Chakrabarty does. Come elections and he begins collecting new white canvas caps to beat the heat. Now, someone's being practical.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arindam Sarkar is Editor-Special Projects of Hindustan Times, Kolkata. He has spent over two decades covering Bengal and national politics of India as correspondent and editor. He has also covered South Asian countries.

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