As the Election Commission is keeping a hawk’s eye on poll expenditure, candidates for the high-profile Jamshedpur parliamentary seat used the occasion of Sarhul — one of the most important festival of tribal groups marking the onset of sowing season — on Wednesday to reach out to most voters but with least or no campaign expense.
JMM nominee Niroop Mahanty and BJP candidate Bidyut Baran Mahto with sal leaves in their hands joined the procession of Adivasi Ho Samaj near Oraon Samaj Bhavan in Sitaramdera.
Both the Lok Sabha aspirants tried their hand at playing the musical instruments like madol and matched steps with tribal girls. But they did not appeal for votes in the wake of the model code of conduct which bars campaigns during religious festivals.
“Ajoy Kumar se bahut tagda chunauti hai is liye hamare pratayashi ko har ek mauka ka fayda uthana hain. Bidyut ji tribal logon ke leader rahen hain aur tribal sanskriti ka acha jankari rakhte hain. Unka is procession main bhag lene se adivasiyon ka rujhan unke taraf ho jayega (Ajoy Kumar is a strong contender and our candidate has to take maximum advantage of every opportunity to woo voters. Bidyutji is a tribal leader and aware of indigenous rituals and culture. His participating in Sarhul procession will definitely sway tribal voters,” said Kaju Sandil, president of the Jamshedpur unit of BJP ST-SC front.
Thousands of tribals from different pockets of city and outskirts took part in the procession which began at 5pm.
Decked up in traditional clothes and carrying sal leaves, they danced to the tune of madol, nagada and dhol.
The procession began from Sitaramdera. Crossing Bhalubasa, Baradwari, Kashidih and Sakchi, it returned to Sitaramdera through Sakchi-Kalimati Road.
Mahanty (64), the former Tata Steel vice-president (HR&IR), looked a bit tired but tried to present a cheerful countenance, drumming up the madol and dancing with tribal youths.
After sharing pleasantries with Adivasi Ho Samaj leaders, Mahanty, who accompanied state tribal welfare and transport minister Champai Soren, performed a puja at the Jahersthan (the sacred tribal place of worship).
“I am used to tribal rituals as I was involved in Tata Steel CSR activities during tenure of Russi Mody in rural pockets of the district. Old memories came alive,” he said.
Sitting MP and JVM candidate Ajoy Kumar attended Sarhul festivity at Galudih in Ghatshila sub-division, around 40 km from the city.
“I attended the function at Galudih as I knew my rivals and supporters would make a beeline to attend such programme in the city. So I spent my time with tribal people in rural areas,” said Kumar.