The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forget walls, CPM in drawing rooms
There’s a ban on graffiti. Does he know'

Calcutta, March 3: Graffiti banned, the ruling CPM, its allies and the Opposition are busy working out alternative modes of campaign.

The CPM has convened a meeting of its state committee on March 18 to discuss cam- paign strategy in the wake of the Election Commission ban on defacing of walls.

CPM leaders said they are awaiting a reply to a letter to the poll panel seeking clarification on what sort of campaign the parties would conduct.

Sources said the CPM secretariat, the party's highest decision-making body at the state level, also discussed at length this morning the party's possible modes of campaign.

CPM functionaries said one alternative was cable TV.

'Our local party units will hire cable channels for our campaign,' said Rabin Deb, the Ballygunge MLA who oversees poll-related matters in the organisation.

'Campaign through cable channels has already become very popular in rural Bengal,' he suggested.

Left Front partners such as the RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI are also banking on local TV channels.

The CPM has also planned to send questionnaires to individual households seeking opinion on the front's performance in the past five years.

'Members of the local party units will not hesitate to admit our weaknesses and accept suggestions,' Deb said.

Small group meetings will also be organised 'in every corner of the state to explain to people what we have done in the past five years and what we are going to do if voted back to power,' a key CPM leader of central Calcutta said.

Taking a cue from the CPM, the state Congress has also convened a meeting of its election committee to discuss a revised campaign strategy. Defence minister and state party president Pranab Mukherjee will attend next week's meeting, working president Pradip Bhattacharya said.

The leadership has already sent guidelines to the district units asking them to focus on 'house-to-house campaign'.

Mamata Banerjee has convened a Trinamul Congress working committee meeting next week. 'As there is a ban on graffiti, I will intensify my campaign in the state and concentrate on rural areas where the CPM has done little in terms of development,' she said.

The poll panel is yet to shed light on the clarification chief electoral officer Debasish Sen had sought on what could be done with existing graffiti.

In the presence of the chief secretary, home secretary and inspector-general, law and order, Sen held a videoconference from Writers' Buildings to discuss the code of conduct with the district magistrates.

After the secretariat meeting, Jyoti Basu said the party had accepted the five-phase poll schedule 'though it is unjustified and insulting to the state'. He added: 'Bengal had a record of free and fair polls and the EC had also given us certificates to that effect.'

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