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Civic ban on Sen songs

March 13: The Congress-run Behrampore municipality today instructed employees managing two grounds in the town not to play songs by Trinamul candidate Indranil Sen, prompting Election Commission sources to wonder if the civic body could issue such a stricture.

Sen will take on the Congress’s Adhir Chowdhury, the chief adviser to the municipality, in the Behrampore Lok Sabha seat.

The Barrack Square and YMA grounds are maintained by the civic body and are considered the lungs of Behrampore town. Hundreds of morning walkers come to the grounds every day. The civic body manages the music systems at the two grounds, where songs of Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam and devotional songs in Bengali and Hindi are played.

“We have received a notice from the municipal office instructing us not to play songs sung by Sen. We have stopped playing such songs,” said Narayan Pramanik, the employee in charge of playing music at Barrack Square.

The Barrack Square and YMA grounds have a collection of CDs of Sen, including Durer Balaka, Ek Gochha Rajanigandha and Anya Thikana. Three compilations of Sen’s rendition of Tagore songs are also in the ground managers’ collection.

The chairman of the Behrampore municipality, Nilratan Adhya, said: “Sen is a candidate of a party that is in the Opposition in the municipality. Our leader Adhir Chowdhury is the chief adviser to the municipality. The Congress runs the municipality. Why should we give Sen publicity by playing his songs?”

Sen said not playing his songs would have little impact on people. “I have been singing for a long time and have already found a place in the hearts of the people of Bengal. So by not playing my songs in one or two places, they will not be able to remove me from the hearts of the people. Behrampore has a sense of culture. I feel this (the municipality’s decision) is insignificant,” he said.

Although the Election Commission does not have a specific rule in the model code of conduct related to films or songs of actors and singers contesting elections, it has said government television and radio channels will not be able to air films or songs featuring a candidate following the filing of nominations till the end of the election process.

But since Sen is yet to file his nomination, a government establishment like a civic body does not have the power to stop his songs from being played, sources in the panel said.

“If the civic authorities have said Sen’s songs will not be played because he is a Trinamul candidate, that is politics at play, not a commission rule,” an Election Commission source said this evening.