Amidst the stream of billboards, posters and party flags flooding Kolkata’s chaotic streets in the run-up to elections, a glazed hoarding featuring popular intellectuals of West Bengal is catching everyone’s eyes these days.
“Pariborton Chai” (We want change), reads the hoarding popping up at regular intervals, in opposition of the communists who have ruled the state uninterruptedly since 1977.
The hoardings are part of a campaign with a difference – It is not mounted by the opposition Trinamool Congress-Congress combine, but by a group of powerful intellectuals who have joined hands against the communists.
Battle lines were drawn by the intellectuals, who had patronized the Marxists for decades, after the government began seizing farmlands for industrialization and allegedly used repressive means to tame those opposing the policy.
The divide became official after the police firing of Nandigram on May 14, 2007 that killed 14 and triggered more violence, largely blamed on the communists.