Galsi, March 31: Cans of paint and brushes in hand, a group of government officials in Burdwan are reliving their days of campaigning for college elections.
But unlike backing a political party then, the team of 30-something officials is urging people to come out and vote in the Lok Sabha polls under a plan of the Election Commission to increase voter participation.
Government officials cannot take part in any political activity but the wall writing foe the poll panel is out of the purview of political work.
Led by the BDO of Galsi block II, the eight officials are writing slogans on the walls of the PWD and the irrigation department offices in between attending meetings and other administrative work. Under the commission’s Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme, district officials across the country take the initiative to urge people in their area to come out and vote.
But unlike in other states, where the districts administration usually employ local artists to write such graffiti, the officials in Galsi are braving the around 40°C and the loo-like winds to come out with their brushes.
Anirban Hazra, the officer in charge of elections in Galsi block II, described his wall-writing experience as a throwback to his days in Raj College of Burdwan. “Those were the days. I was a member of the students’ union at Raj College in Burdwan in the late nineties. I always used to write graffiti during college polls. I picked up the skill then. But after I left college, I never got a chance to pick up a brush and a can of paint,” said the 2005 batch WBCS officer.
His superior Raja Adak, the joint BDO of Galsi, echoed Hazra. “Not that I did not fold my sleeves to pick up the brush and paint during the union elections. But I was more active during my days with an NGO for which I worked. We used to decide on catchy phrases on issue relating to social problems. I used to write on the walls of my locality,” the 34-year-old official from Digha said. Adak did his graduation from Anandamohan College in Calcutta.
Asked if they wrote the entire graffiti on their own, Adak said: “The slogans are decided by the district magistrate under guidelines from the commission. We employed local artists but only to draw the outline of the letters. We put the paint in them.”
Galsi residents said they were amused to see the babus writing graffiti, adding that the writing on the walls was a relief from the usual language used by political parties in the poll season.
“Initially, we thought they would write graffiti backing one political party or the other. But we later saw that their motive was to enhance voter participation. This amused us,” said 35-year-old trader Debaprasad Karmakar.