Among the many festivals of West Bengal, the election season stands apart. This year, the campaigns were grander than usual. The state has never seen so many national leaders and political heavyweights whip up a storm like they did this time around. With movie stars in the fray—both as candidates and campaigners—multitudes gathered at the rallies, regardless of their political leanings.
From kites to sweets, saris to body art, masks to face paint, party symbols were everywhere. Another first was that over 700 companies of Central Reserve Police Force were deployed statewide to ensure smooth running of the polls. The echo of their heavy boots aroused as much fear in the hearts of the people as they instilled a sense of security in them.
THE WEEK captured the colours and textures of the spectacle that was the 2021 assembly elections in Bengal. Festoons, posters and hoardings fluttered across the state’s skies in every party’s colours, even as giant photographs of the leaders stared at citizens from their perches. The battle cries of “asol poriborton (real change)”, in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and “khela hobe” (game on), coming from the Trinamool Congress camp, rent the air as election fever ran high.
Come May 2, the results will finally reveal the fate of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the toughest political contest of her five-decade-long career.