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Sporting events and icons score over politics and business. Bandh, scam and vandalism are greeted with the loudest boos. On the last day of the year, an opinion poll catches Calcuttans in rewind mood
Graphic: Sanjoy Santra


Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee loses out to Sourav Ganguly, Leander Paes and Bhaichung Bhutia.

Ratan Tata’s proposed people’s car plant in Bengal is a point of pride, but nothing in comparison to Dada’s return to Team India.

Nothing moves us the way sports does. That is the crux of an opinion poll conducted by Mode to assess how Calcutta responded to prominent people and significant events in the year that’s bowing out in a few hours.

Around 75 per cent of respondents are proud of the changing work culture in the city and 78 per cent are happy with Tata Motor’s proposed plant.

Sounds like a city at work' Wait till you come to the play. A whopping 97 per cent are euphoric that Sourav Ganguly is back in Team India for the South African safari.

Not just that, Sunfeast Open, which saw empty stands at the Netaji Indoor Stadium except for a few glamour matches, evokes more pride than the developments in the world of business and commerce that are bound to have positive spin-off effects on the whole state.

“Sports is something that gives you an immediate positive feedback, while business or political developments are matters of discussions and debates… Besides, a popular figure who has struggled and staged a comeback (Sourav) will always catch the fancy of the majority,” says psychologist Mohormala Chatterjee.

If sports tops the pride list, lifestyle and entertainment are next on the priority list of the 300-plus respondents (equal number of men and women in the 20-to-45 age group) quizzed in the last week of 2006.

So, Bipasha Basu’s success in Bollywood, Konkona Sen Sharma’s acceptance as the most wanted actress in multiplex movies and the fact that McDonald’s is finally poised to enter Calcutta are far more on the Calcuttan’s mind than big bang investment proposals or political tussles.

“These are signs of consumer prosperity and also exposure to the best in entertainment and lifestyle, which strikes an immediate chord,” is how Chatterjee explains the drift towards the good life.

A case in point is Mamata Banerjee’s protest over the acquisition of farmland for factory. Around 12 per cent respondents are just not bothered about the 25-day fast that prompted the President and the Prime Minister to act. And a majority of respondents — around 52 per cent — are not favourably disposed towards the drama in Dharmatala that finally ended on Thursday night.

As a symbol of shame ’06, around 88 per cent have picked the vandalism in the Assembly.

Despite reservations about her brand of politics, around 55 per cent put Mamata in the people they like list.

But she trails way behind the poster boy of change in Bengal as over 81 per cent respondents declare their admiration for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The chief minister, in turn, has lost out to three local sporting icons.

Sourav, the prince of Calcutta, tops the popularity charts with an overwhelming 97 per cent votes, followed by Leander Paes (95 per cent) and Bhaichung Bhutia (94 per cent).

But Bhattacharjee can take pride in the fact that his school of thought is in tune with the times. The disruption-free environment that he promises to potential investors seems to be a demand from the man on the street as well.

Over 91 per cent respondents hang their heads in shame when Bengal makes the headlines for three successive bandhs in a month.

That sports and politics don’t make popular partners is proved by the boos directed at the “good versus evil” tamasha over the CAB elections.

The most promiment pain points, however, are the government’s failure in maintaining roads or ensuring proper medical care for the people. Over 93 per cent of people are peeved with the negligence of the government departments that led to the medical kit scam.

Similarly, 91 per cent raps the government for failing to maintain roads.

“These are basic things and the government must do its bit and perform its duties,” sums up Joydeep Guha, a young market researcher.

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