Battle for Bengal's walls as power of poll graffiti still unmatched

With Lok Sabha elections approaching, political graffiti and wall paintings have become prominent in West Bengal. Various parties use creative artwork to convey their messages to voters. From satirical depictions to serious accusations, these artworks play a significant role in the election campaign. The tradition of election graffiti dates back to 1952 and continues to be a powerful medium of political expression in the state. Social media has not replaced the impact of wall writings, as they remain an essential component of election campaigning in West Bengal.

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 07-04-2024 09:11 IST | Created: 07-04-2024 09:11 IST
Battle for Bengal's walls as power of poll graffiti still unmatched
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With barely two weeks left for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, poll graffiti and wall paintings are becoming common across West Bengal, demonstrating its unmatched power to grab the attention of voters.

In Siliguri, a mural by Trinamool Congress portrays a figure resembling Prime Minister Narendra Modi being cautioned by Lord Ram to maintain a safe distance and win the elections on his own merit.

Hundreds of miles away in Kolkata's Jadavpur, a graffiti by CPI(M)'s student wing SFI compares TMC to the ''demon'' of Sandeshkhali and BJP to a ''dacoit'', urging voters to reject both. Another graffiti by CPI(M), with images of LPG cylinder, reads 'tel theklo satake, gas gelo hazare, bhaktagan mookh kholena bazare' (the price of oil has breached the Rs 100 mark, price of LPG has reached Rs 1,000 but supporters of BJP are silent).

Graffiti - some witty, some satirical and some thought-provoking - have been an inseparable part of any election in the eastern state since 1952.

According to SFI state committee member Subhajit Sarkar, such artworks portray the need to combat undemocratic forces like the BJP and the TMC. Sarkar told PTI, ''Cartoons, graffiti, wall writings have been an integral part of West Bengal politics, especially during elections.'' ''The need to fight undemocratic and fascist forces, ongoing probe against TMC leaders in cases of corruption and their involvement and attempts by the BJP to polarise society in the name of Ram have all been portrayed and reflected in our campaign,'' he said.

Trinamool Congress spokesperson and party's student wing state chief Trinankur Bhattacharya said, ''We have harped on the pressing issues faced by West Bengal and people of the country''.

''From squeezing of central funds meant for West Bengal under MGNREGA and Awas Yojana to frequent raids using the CBI and ED to harass and scare opposition leaders, our graffitis reflect wide-ranging issues,'' he said.

The BJP also responded with murals countering TMC's claims and highlighting corruption allegations. In an apparent response to the TMC's 'Tihare bosei khela habe' (the game will be played from Tihar jail) poster, the saffron party put up a graffiti in Dubrajpur under Birbhum Lok Sabha seat, saying, 'khelte khelte Tihar gele sange niye meye, bakira sob bose ache tomar dike cheye', (you and your daughter went to Tihar jail, now others are waiting to join you).

The graffiti bore faces of incarcerated TMC strongman in Birbhum Anubrata Mondal and his daughter.

''Wall writings have become a potent tool to drive home messages to the electorate. Countering TMC's false claims about the use of central agencies, we reminded them that Mondal and his daughter are not the only ones in the corruption-ridden party. There are many more waiting in the wings,'' BJP leader in Birbhum Sambhunath Banerjee told PTI.

He said rather than using pamphlets and banners, wall writings have more traction.

Another graffiti with the image of Modi and a lotus reads 'Apnar pratik. Ei chinhe vote din' (This is your symbol. Please vote for this symbol).

In Dumdum, TMC murals depict a piggybank symbolising the 'Lakshmir Bhandar' women's empowerment project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. ''We believe in the old school of campaigning. But the opposition is yet to start campaigning. I will be happy if they can match us. That opens up to explore creative pursuit more,'' TMC leader Dhrubajyoti Basu said.

Recalling the days when graffiti were much in vogue, Professor Anjana Dutta said now campaigns are more on social media with memes and videos becoming more popular.

''In the 80s and 90s, wall writings used to be the sole mode of communication and people of a locality would look at the walls to know the names of candidates and the party they represented,'' Dutta said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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