Candidates across party lines in West Bengal are vying for the voter’s attention with an apolitical rival.
Whether it is the Trinamool Congress (TMC), CPM, BJP or the Congress, candidates are rather baffled over how to pry public attention away from the IPL. They are worried that their evening campaigning may suffer if voters stay to glued to cricket.
Ram Chandra Dome, senior CPM leader and candidate from the Bolpur Lok Sabha constituency, said, “The cricket fever has gripped not only voters but our party workers as well. We have to adjust the timing and strategy of our door-to-door campaigning for this.”
The CPM candidate seemed a bit amused with the situation. He said there was, however, one advantage of the IPL and campaigning taking place simultaneously — it is keeping most voters at home in the evening.
“But if we approach them with political issues when they are engrossed in cricket, they may get annoyed,” said Dome.
In the northern part of West Bengal, John Barla, the BJP candidate from Alipurduar constituency, is desperately trying to strike a balance between cricket and politics.
But Barla’s rival, TMC candidate Dasrath Tirkey, wants to be cautious with people’s emotions about cricket. “We have to figure out a way of approaching voters without annoying them,” said Tirkey.
Meanwhile, Gautam Deb, senior TMC minister and the party’s in-charge of campaigning in Darjeeling, is in a double vine. Being a cricket enthusiast himself, Deb is upset that he will have to miss a few matches.
“Moreover, people will disappear from the streets in the evening as soon as the matches start. It will be a challenging task to draw their attention to politics,” said Deb.
“We will mingle with those who come to watch IPL matches in clubs. Our campaigning will continue alongside cricket,” a TMC leader said.