Residents gather at the Behala Trinamul office to catch the Knight Riders in action. Picture by Pabitra Das
If T20 is the flavour of the season, Trinamul Congress trying to woo voters with cricket could be the gimmick of Election 2009.
Trinamul’s Behala office turns into a Knight Riders dugout before every match, with a television installed on the footpath bringing IPL action from South Africa to the neighbourhood and giving party workers a chance to feel the pulse of the crowd.
Thursday’s match may have ended in a “super sad” over for the Knight Riders and their fans but Trinamul’s idea of using cricket to score on the poll pitch seems to be a super hit.
“We have installed the television in front of our party office so that residents of the neighbourhood can enjoy the Knight Riders’ matches together. Let me clarify that supporters of all parties can come over and watch the matches. Our local party leaders join us on occasions,” said party worker S. Chhadik.
Trinamul leader Sovan Chatterjee, the chairman of borough XIV of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, thinks cricket is the perfect platform for camaraderie.
“A friendly environment makes any task easier and the IPL provides just that. We do not talk politics during the matches, though,” he said.
The positive feedback from Behala has prompted the Trinamul leadership to ask other party offices in town to do likewise. “When cricket brings the crowds, do we need rallies?” asked Chatterjee.
In keeping with the mood, Trinamul has even turned around the Knight Riders’ song to make it one of its poll slogans. “One of the hoardings for our candidate in Calcutta North, Sudip Bandopadhyay, bears the slogan Lorbo, gorbo, jeetbo re. It is catchy and it is our way of communicating with our supporters,” trilled Sadhan Pandey, the Trinamul MLA from North Calcutta.
Most Trinamul hoardings on Amherst Street, Vivekananda Road and Raja Rammohan Roy Road bear the slogan.
The CPM thinks it’s not cricket. “We do not think it is right for parties to organise such shows to woo voters. It amounts to playing politics with a game that is almost a religion in this country. The doors of our party offices and clubs are always open for people to come in and enjoy the matches on television without being taken advantage of,” said Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, a CPM leader from Kidderpore and the mayoral council member for parks and gardens.