The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha lines up gift of graffiti to people

Calcutta, May 29: Give me victory and I’ll give you graffiti.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has decided that the Left Front will celebrate stepping into its 30th year of continuous rule by painting the town ' more like the state, really ' red.

In the process, the chief minister will gift to the state’s people the freedom to have the walls of their homes and offices covered with graffiti or posters by political parties.

The government will repeal the anti-defacement law that caused it such anguish in the just-concluded elections under strict Election Commission enforcement.

On June 21, when the ruling combine completes 29 years of rule, posters and banners will cry out the party’s achievements from walls throughout the state.

The idea appears to be the brainchild of the chief minister who told front allies at a meeting today that the government would repeal the act after discussion at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

He said the government would also publish a souvenir in June, listing its achievements.

“When the government is publishing a souvenir, won’t the Left Front print posters to celebrate the occasion'” Bhattacharjee asked front chairman Biman Bose at the meeting in the morning.

When some allies, including CPI’s Nandagopal Bhattacharya, pointed out that posters were banned under the West Bengal Prevention of Property Defacement Act, 1976, Bhattacharjee told them the legislation would be repealed soon.

The act says no public or private property ' not even a pillar or a tree ' across the state can be defaced.

“The chief minister is discussing this at the political level. The cabinet will discuss this on Wednesday,” chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb said this evening.

Bhattacharjee has expressed his unhappiness with the anti-defacement act before. On his birthday this March (before the elections), he said at an unguarded moment: “Aage janle kobe repeal kore ditam (If we’d realised earlier, we’d have repealed it).”

Although all these years the administration turned a blind eye to graffiti that violated the act, a strict poll panel has made life difficult for political parties.

Commission officials are no longer watching with hawk-eyes but, thanks to their very public vigilance, citizens have become more aware of their rights, which is why the government wants to repeal it.

“If there is a live act, there may be a public interest litigation in the high court, pointing out that the act exists but is not being enforced. The court can issue an order compelling the government to perform the duty of implementing something which is mandatory,” explained an official.

In order to repeal the act, the government will have to table a bill in the Assembly and get it passed.

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