Through the Lens: Election Diaries from Villages in Bengal

Life goes on as usual for the rural folk of Bengal, untouched by the much-publicised ‘poribartan’, by Priya Virmani.

Updated
Politics
2 min read


Muslim women showing their fingers marked with phosphorous ink after casting their vote at the polling station during the West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata on 21 April 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Travelling into the heartland of villages in Bengal, stories about the ongoing State Assembly Elections were aplenty. Stories of political apathy among the village common folk; stories of political savvy among the elders and local leaders; stories of political masquerading; of mindless bloodshed in the name of political muscle power; stories of party given sops spurned by the villagers; stories of how the villagers are so carefully used and willfully abused by the ‘democratic process’ in place....

Yet what stayed with me were the stories of the people. Their stories have had a most palpable impact on me. I will be writing about their stories, but here’s a snapshot of village life in a photo-diary.



Stunning scenery on the doorstop of Kolkata enroute to the heartland of villages in North 24 Parganas – in <i></i><a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Bengal/102910696417218?ref=stream">West Bengal</a>. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ <b>The Quint</b>)
Stunning scenery on the doorstop of Kolkata enroute to the heartland of villages in North 24 Parganas – in West Bengal. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ The Quint)


(Photo: Priya Virmani/ <b>The Quint</b>)
(Photo: Priya Virmani/ The Quint)

A village lady’s day begins and ends with cutting hay for a calf. She gets a calf at a time and every time it grows into an adult, she sells the cow for some money. Her daily routine of hay cutting under the unforgiving sun is punctuated by caring for her disabled son and her husband (seen in the foreground) who is fast blinding but still makes fishnets (hanging on the bamboo in the image) to the best of his ‘eyesight’ for Rs 200 per day.



The Echhamoti River – a hidden bead on a string of villages. Cross the River and you cross into Bangladesh. (Photo: Priya Virmani/<b>The Quint</b>)
The Echhamoti River – a hidden bead on a string of villages. Cross the River and you cross into Bangladesh. (Photo: Priya Virmani/The Quint)


A ‘blasting’ Congress election van enters the village square. Village elders astutely read into the agendas of political parties yet their choices are reduced to voting between two evils. (Photo: Priya Virmani/<b>The Quint</b>)
A ‘blasting’ Congress election van enters the village square. Village elders astutely read into the agendas of political parties yet their choices are reduced to voting between two evils. (Photo: Priya Virmani/The Quint)


The landscape of a village square. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ <b>The Quint</b>)
The landscape of a village square. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ The Quint)
The village pond becomes a swimming pool as the children cool off in temperatures of upto 42 degrees! (Photo: Priya Virmani/ <b>The Quint</b>)
The village pond becomes a swimming pool as the children cool off in temperatures of upto 42 degrees! (Photo: Priya Virmani/ The Quint)


Along the village trail...the shy beauty of a tree bowing to her lover....the water. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ <b>The Quint</b>)
Along the village trail...the shy beauty of a tree bowing to her lover....the water. (Photo: Priya Virmani/ The Quint)

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