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Word on the street: plays to attract voters
- Parties opt for nukkad nataks to advertise manifesto, highlight work & register feedback

Rallies and speeches are not the only poll ammunition in the hands of the political leaders but they have something equally potent — nukkad nataks or street plays.

From spreading the word about a particular candidate to advertising the party manifesto, the street plays are doing it all these days. Almost all the parties are busy organising the plays across the state to solicit the voters’ support.

Abdul Bari Siddiqui, the RJD candidate from Madhubani, went further to claim that the street plays being held in his constituency would help revive art forms such as the fables of jatt, jattin and jharini.

He said: “Through the street plays, I have tried to emphasise the extinction of the Madhubani art forms. There are five distinctive styles in Madhubani art — Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Gobar paintings — among which several have become extinct. The streets plays are an effective means of communication in the rural areas. The artistes are performing to traditional Mithila folk songs in the regional languages.”

If for some, the street plays are a medium to revive folk art, for others it is a means of advertising their achievements and manifestos.

Jaya Mishra, in charge of social media and programming implementation for the Congress, said: “The publicity campaigns through street plays have been started in more than 12 constituencies. These have a good reach in the rural areas because of the linguistic factor, apart from great impact, visibility and recall value. Those with a local connect have a different punch and effect altogether. We are advertising our manifestos and achievements through the street plays and registering the feedback of the voters.”

The BJP, which in the 2009 election had staged street plays, has picked the art form for campaigning this time as well. A 14-member street play team arrived in Bihar from Delhi to perform in the different constituencies.

The state-based artistes quite happy about the part they are playing in the festival of democracy.

For theatre artiste Tak, however, performing in a street play for a particular party did not particularly imply adherence to its ideology. “Performing in street plays during the elections is just another way of earning money. The plays are although a good medium to bridge the gap between the political parties and voters in the rural areas. These help spread awareness about a party’s achievements and poll promises,” said Tak, who has staged a street play for the Aam Aadmi Party.

The musical groups in Patna, providing the campaign goods such as jingles, audio and video songs, are although feeling the pinch of digitisation. Om Maushami, the owner of one such group in Patna, said: “We have recorded for at least 20 candidates. The candidates now ask for the audio and video in external drives. They prefer the audio in regional languages of their constituencies.”