Campaigning reached fever pitch over the weekend. The two main parties started plastering the city with gory pictures of burnt and cut bodies each claiming as the other's handiwork. Meetings and rallies were doubled or perhaps tripled.
On Saturday (temperature 41.8) as we whizzed down DH road entered and exited several airwaves: 1st a CPM meet blaring about "Bicchinotabadi (separatist) politics" and while I could wondered if Bengal was to be partitioned once again and how - west west bengal and east west bengal or north west bengal and south west bengal, we hit TMC air space - with Nandigram and Singur and into another left party meet (couldn't see the party banner -- we were hurtling past) shouting about the merits of a certain "netri" - who else but mamati di. A quick stop to unload a passenger and we had an earful of "cows smuggled in from bangladesh and about a cow abbatoir" - BJP meet and lastly (for that stretch) a meet of Gramin Chikitsak Samiti who were going on and on about a healthy government prosob (delivery) kora.
More of the same on Sunday -- which was HOTTER. And this time, at least one party felt the heat too. They had apparently set up a meeting around 10:00am at Lake Market but seeing no takers and probably all half dead with sun strokes, departed, flags, chairs, podium, mikes and all after only half an hour or so!!
And then the skies opened poured down on everyone's meeting and rallies as the deadline for campaigning came up on Monday afternoon. (I think even the party workers were secretly relieved).
Today has been very pleasant. It rained and rained and rained. Its nice and cool now - atleast 10 to 12 degrees cooler. And it has been a relief. Only the normal city noises - cars and buses and horns and general buzz of 9 million residents ... but those are constant fixtures and dont count. No loudspeakers, no michils, no rallies and no new hoardings. Ah! till tomorrow, these 48 hours will be the quitest for a very long time...perhaps for the next 5 years - since normally there is atleast a couple of orators on any given day in Kolkata blaring about something or the other.
More and more buses went off the road on "election duty". That meant general harrassment for commuters...but we are used to cramming into ancient boxes on wheels (something like the cramming into telephone booth fad of ancient times). Many were secretly thankful of the lesser number of buses: They could lead early from work. No seriously, many have had to face this problem today and many are still stuck at bus stops. However, the weather is now helping to somewhat smoothen the wait.
But I think we are going to miss all the crazy hoopla surrounding the elections - all other countries and perhaps even those in rest of India pales at our theatrics! We are going to miss the news bulletins of presiding officers caught skulking off (after poll hours) with the electronic voting machines and the strange tale of some 100 odd officials being transported somewhere on poll duty and all of a sudden they were off loaded from the bus which then zoomed off and these stranded officials blocked the road and created a ruckus!!
We vote tomorrow - in this final and last stage of voting - and hope that this will be the last session for these elections and there will be no need for re-polls.