A swinging Celsius has intensified the election heat.
While voters in the four Lok Sabha constituencies that went to polls on Thursday braved near-40 temperatures, candidates and their canvassing troops in the remaining 10 seats grappled with exhaustion, heat cramps and stomach ailments.
Many were forced to alter campaign timings to early morning or late evening, others fell back on quick-fix remedies for headache and nausea.
On Wednesday, cloud cover had dragged down maximum readings across the state by two degrees or more. Ranchi, flaunting its altitude advantage, was theoretically the coolest at around 34°C. But, poll-oppressed nominees barely felt it. On Thursday, the degree devil was back with a vengeance.
Sitting Congress MP Subodh Kant Sahay, wooing the electorate in coal-rich Khelari, 62km from the capital, complained of uneasiness. “Kaafi pareshani huyi kal humlog ko, woh jagah coal belt hai (We had trouble coping with the harsh weather yesterday. The place being a coal mine region was hotter),” he said.
Sahay conceded that they were taking extra precautions to buffer the onslaught of the Celsius. “I prefer to home by 6am. If I address the rural masses in the afternoon, I prefer to do it under the shade of a tree,” he said, adding that he had a low haemoglobin count and fatigue was common.
Ajsu workers are reeling from dehydration. “We are campaigning from 8am till 10pm in far-flung areas like Silli, Khijri, Kanke and Hatia, where daytime temperatures peaked today (Thursday). Party workers are complaining of nausea, vomiting and headache,” said Ajsu spokesperson Deo Sharan Bhagat.
The party’s chief Sudesh Mahto, a contender for the coveted Ranchi seat, is campaigning under Ichagarh’s sweltering conditions. He has advised all Ajsu workers to carry umbrellas. “You get easily exhausted in this heat. The sun saps your energy. You need to shield yourself and maintain electrolyte balance in the body. I drink gallons of water, sometimes with salt and lemon,” Mahto said.
Mandar MLA-turned-TMC nominee from Ranchi Bandhu Tirkey too starts campaigning as early as 6am. “Bahut garmi hai… humlog ped ke niche baith kar sabha karte hai (It is extremely hot… we look for tree cover for our meetings with voters),” Tirkey said, adding that he was suffering from frequent headaches despite wearing a sun cap.
Villagers are helping campaigners beat the heat with local brew hadiya. “It lowers the body temperature in case you are having a heat stroke,” said TMC worker Manoj.
Elitists such as JVM candidate Amitabh Choudhary, who is campaigning in Ichagarh, Namkum and Chutia, however, carry glucose water.
“It re-energises you,” the MP hopeful said.