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TMC booth soldiers borrow a Left trick

Calcutta, March 12: Mamata Banerjee is trying out a combination of star power by fielding 10 candidates from the worlds of art, culture and sports, and complementing it with people power by activating grassroots-level party workers, tweaking a strategy perfected by the Marxists.

The Trinamul leadership has told district leaders to instruct booth-level workers, the lowest-rung in the party, to ensure that “assured voters” make it to the electronic voting machines on poll day.

“It is up to the leaders of each district unit to work out a strategy to involve the booth-level workers in the poll process,” said Partha Chatterjee, the Trinamul secretary-general.

Trinamul sources said that as the Lok Sabha elections would be a four-cornered fight, it was imperative to get booth-level workers on board to fulfil Mamata’s target of winning all 42 seats in Bengal.

The booth-level workers act as a bridge between the party and its supporters in a locality.

According to sources, Trinamul workers in localities who regularly attend party meetings and rallies have been given the responsibility of conveying the party’s message to the voters, who do not usually attend such programmes.

For example, the North 24-Parganas unit has assigned one booth worker for 10 families in each locality of the district’s five Lok Sabha constituencies.

“Families that are known to support us are being approached. Assuming that each of the 10 families has five voters each, the booth worker will have to ensure that all 50 people vote in our favour,” a Trinamul leader said.

In Hooghly, which has three Lok Sabha seats and over 4,000 booths, teams having 25 Trinamul workers each have been drawn up to do the leg work. According to sources, booth-level workers have started visiting households.

Because of the microphone ban in the exam season, the Howrah Trinamul has decided to organise street-corner meetings where no loudspeakers will be required. The booth-level workers will hold “interactive sessions” with residents and distribute booklets on the development work done by the government.

During these sessions, the booth workers will have to ask the residents about their problems and apprise the leadership about the ground situation.

“Based on the feedback, we will tell the booth-level workers what to say when they go back to the voters,” a source said.

The Trinamul sources said the “micro-level strategy” had been modelled on a campaigning tactic perfected by the CPM when it was in power.

During the 34-year Left rule, CPM cadres at the booth level used to maintain round-the-year contact with voters. The booth workers paid regular visits to households, sent reminders, supplied voter’s slips and ensured the presence of voters at the polling booths.

“The rise in the number of our supporters since the change of guard in Bengal has made it possible for us to build a booth-level network,” a Trinamul source said.