Campaigning is over. Now, is the time for a feast — with hadiya and sugri — on poll-eve to woo voters, especially tribals, in Santhal Pargana.
Not surprisingly, JMM has taken the lead in this usual pre-poll ritual. A JMM leader, who doesn't wish to be named, said the party had taken the pradhans or manjhi harams (traditional village heads) in confidence and separate funds were released for arranging such feasts.
JMM, along with other parties, have started pumping huge amounts of money to arrange hadiya or mahua and sugri (pork). JMM workers, however, remained cautious in minority-dominated villages where they arranged for fish and mutton.
In poverty-ravaged villages atop the Rajmahal hills, Paharias were happy to enjoy the community feasts on election-eve. "After feasting and drinking hadiya, we will proceed to the polling stations from early morning tomorrow to cast our votes," said a youth belonging to the endangered tribe.
The villagers said they have been enjoying such feasts by their "favourite candidates" on the eve of every election since long. "This time I have to arrange goats and fish from nearby Rampurhat in Bengal because in many villages we had to arrange two or three such community feasts," said a top-ranking JMM leader at Littipara in Pakur.
Every other political party was supportive of such feasts. "What is wrong if somebody provides food to hungry people? It has become a common custom here just like arranging feasts during a marriage," said a top BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Telegraph / 2009 April 22
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