Candidates hard put to beat the heat

KOLKATA, 23 APRIL: One of the greatest warriors of the 15th century, Maharana Sangram Singh, is said to have flaunted 84 battle wounds on his bo-dy as they reminded him of his victories. As the electoral battle for Bengal progresses, several candidates have gained scars, figurative and actual, that they are likely to boast of after the polling is over, no matter their fate ~ victory or defeat.
Be it a suntan, weight loss or shoe bites, the marks would tell tales of their toil, specially with scorching heat posing the biggest challenge for the candidates on the campaign trail.
Door-to-door campaigns have had to be restricted to the early morning to evade the harsh sun, while road shows and meetings are held after the sun goes down. The minimum temperatures in March and much of April were appreciably above normal. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures in March 2011 were 34.1°C and 22.7°C against normal values of 34°C and 21.7°C, respectively. Candidates are also having to cope with high humidity.
Mr Asim Dasgupta, state finance minister and the CPI-M candidate in Khardah Assembly constituency, was overheard saying he lost 3-4 kg because of hectic campaigning. The minister is diabetic and suffers from hypertension. Mr Abani Joardar, a retired IPS officer who is the Trinamul candidate in Bagda, was heard to say: “Police er chhakri koreo aito dourote hoy ni joto aikhon dourochhi (I did not have to run around so much even when I was a cop)”. Mr Joardar has shed a couple of kilos and sports a deep tan. Mr Rachhpal Singh, another retired police officer and Trinamul candidate, shared similar sentiments.
A close aide of Ms Debasree Roy, Trinamul candidate in Raidighi, said: “Debasree to tok khete bhalo bashe ar gorom e tok khawa bhalo. Tai or kono oshubide hoe na (she loves sour things and it’s good to eat sour in summer. So, she doesn’t have much of a problem).” The actress is known to drink a lot of lemon juice, lassi and fluids on the campaign trail. And what about getting tanned, even sun-burnt? “Trinamuli chhatri ache (Trinamul umbrella is there),” says the aide. She would get her weight checked after 27 April, he added; one way for those from the world of glamour to keep trim is to fight elections, eh?
Other candidates have been generously using sunscreen and sun block. Light cotton clothes are a must and almost all of them wear canvas shoes, irrespective of the diktats of fashion.
Voters chuckled on seeing chief minister and CPI-M candidate in Jadavpur, Mr Buddhadeb Bhttacharjee, in spotless white garb, sitting with daab and a policeman by his side with a haath pakha. Mr Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamul candidate in Ballygunge, once had to pack up his election campaign in 40 minutes, hounded by the sun, though his supporters are always there with glucose water and haath pakha.
But not everybody is so lucky ~ supporters of Mr Debesh Das, the CPI-M candidate from Entally, forsook him when the going got too hot to handle and the minister was seen asking for water from the houses where he had gone to seek votes!

Soma Basu

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