The Indian Express talks to Ashok Lahiri, former chief economic advisor under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh governments, who has now been fielded by the BJP as a candidate from the Balurghat Assembly seat in the West Bengal elections. Excerpts:
The fifth phase of polling will see voting across North Bengal's tea belt — holding 302 big tea gardens, over 60,000 small gardens and 182 ‘Brought Leaf Factories’ (factories not attached to gardens), with around 10 lakh workers.
It's not just the BJP that's turned the smartphone into an election rally ground. As the fifth phase of Assembly elections nears in West Bengal, the ruling TMC has ramped up its online operations, too.
Inhabited by Totos, the smallest tribal group in West Bengal, the only signs of the election campaign in the village are the 12 flags of the BJP and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), a poster of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and a wall painting of the saffron party’s election symbol “lotus” at the main chowk.
Mamata Banerjee was held up for more than two hours in a polling booth in Nandigram where supporters of the ruling TMC and BJP nearly came to blows. Her security guards formed a cordon as she waited in a wheelchair.
In the heated political battlefield of West Bengal ahead of the Assembly election, set to be a bitter contest between the ruling Trinamool and the BJP, both Poush Mela and the land row are seen to be motivated.
"Football is a contact sport. So, on the pitch, it isn’t possible to maintain distance like you can in an office job. However, once off it, we wear our masks all the time, space ourselves out at team meals and meetings."
The mills suffered greatly during the nationwide lockdown announced in end-March to check the coronavirus. First, there were production losses as the mills shut, leaving many without wages. Then, when these labour-intensive units were allowed to reopen, they did so with only 15% of the workforce.
The scheme by the West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation (CADC), an autonomous organisation under the Panchayat and Rural Development Department, is outsourced to women self-help groups (SHGs) and aims to help senior citizens through the lockdown.
This week, Delhi announced reopening of hotels in a bid to kick off the economy. But with few travellers and no tourists, the industry’s climb out of the pandemic is expected to be the hardest and the longest.