JVM’s Jamshedpur candidate Ajoy Kumar sports a cotton shirt and a cap as he matches steps with tribal women in Karandih on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The maverick mercury in Jharkhand is mocking the Election Commission, which had meticulously studied long-term countrywide meteorological data to draw up the Lok Sabha poll schedule.
The heat wave warning, which was sounded in the state for Monday, has been extended by another 24 hours since maximum temperatures have once again crossed four notches above normal at some places.
“There will be no respite from the scorching heat for the next 24 hours at least. We have extended the alert as the day readings are rising and there is no sign of rain relief for 72 hours,” said a duty officer at Patna Meteorological Centre.
The oppressive weather is an added challenge in campaign season, but wannabe MPs are taking this dare in their stride. The singeing sun has not been able to keep popular candidates, eyeing the state’s 14 parliamentary seats, confined to their air-conditioned offices and homes.
Clad in cool khadi and armed with energy drinks, they are treading the hot and dusty hinterland to mingle with the aam aadmi.
“I am used to the heat. When thela-wallahs (cart-pullers) and traffic cops can do their duty in sultry weather, why can’t I? I am excited to contest the elections; the weather is no deterrent,” said industrialist-turned-JMM’s Jamshedpur nominee Niroop Mahanty.
Mahanty, however, conceded that he takes precautions to avoid sunstroke. “I leave home for campaigning sharp at 8am and carry lot of water to prevent dehydration.”
Sitting MP from the seat Ajoy Kumar hits the streets as early as 6am. “I carry sattu to give me energy, which is sapped by the sun. I also relish cucumbers during my rural trips,” said the JVM leader who sartorially swears by cotton shirts and caps.
BJP aspirant from Jamshedpur Bidyut Baran Mahto prefers light diet along with nimbu paani and daabjal.
Congress candidate from Hazaribagh Saurabh Narayan Singh too has become a frugal eater to beat the heat. “In the morning, it is a bowl of porridge and pomegranate. For lunch, I have rice, dal, sabzi, papad and chutney. I also drink two litres of water every day and sip tulsi-ginger tea.”
Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto, who is eyeing the coveted Ranchi seat, has given up spices for lunch and prefers lassi, watermelon juice and nariyal pani on the go.
The Celsius, on the other hand, is keeping up the heat.
Coal capital Dhanbad topped the discomfort chart on Monday with a maximum of 41.4°C, four points above normal and a degree’s jump from what it had read on Sunday. The swelter meter spun with equal frenzy in the districts of Deoghar, Hazaribagh and Koderma, where the day temperature crossed 41°C.
Sunday’s heat chamber Jamshedpur, however, saw a plunge from 41.2°C to 39.0°C. Weathermen attributed the unlikely change to clouds. “Sudden formation of very high clouds prevented the maximum temperature from rising in the steel city,” said A.K. Sen, the director of Patna Met office.
Ranchi and Daltonganj too were spared forty-plus oppression. While the capital remained an oasis at 35.4°C, a degree less since Sunday, the Palamau district headquarters was a tad hotter at 36.8°C, a notch above normal.
Senior analyst A.E. Kujur at Ranchi Meteorological Centre said the weather would remain dry for the next three days. “There is no possibility of rain for at least another 72 hours,” he echoed Patna weathermen.
Met officials said they were expecting a change in the wind pattern from westerly to easterly only around Thursday, April 3. “Satellite pictures show high clouds over Jharkhand, but they don’t cause precipitation. Low and medium clouds are necessary for rainfall activity. So, if the wind direction becomes easterly, there will be showers,” explained an official in Ranchi.
The Regional Meteorological Centre in Calcutta reiterated what Patna and Ranchi predicted. “Our satellite pictures and weather chart analysis show no sign of rainfall in Jharkhand for at least 48 hours. The heat wave will prevail in isolated pockets,” said a senior official.
(With inputs from Ranchi)