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All ready for night of nights

- Rival camps firm up strategies to woo voters over booze & food
Former BJP MLA Tala Marandi in front of the party’s election office at Borio main market in Rajmahal on Tuesday. Picture by Vijay Deo Jha

Borio (Rajmahal), April 22: Campaigning ended in Rajmahal, which goes to polls on Thursday, around 4pm today. But, only officially.

As the sun set in Borio, an Assembly segment under the Rajmahal Lok Sabha constituency, campaigning shifted elsewhere — party offices, small huts that call themselves restaurants, and people’s homes.

Meat is being cooked over slow fire as partymen get ready for the night with liquor of different varieties and desi daru. The music system is already in place.

It will be yet another night of partying, poll talk and possibilities aplenty when after a few pegs and a hearty meal of mutton and rice, many determined voters are known to change their mind.

Such get-togethers, where workers of political parties mingle with local residents, have become frequent in the villages of Borio in the run-up to Vote Thursday notwithstanding the Election Commission’s hawk eye.

“Something will have to be done tonight, otherwise we are finished,” a local JMM worker was heard telling another at Borio main market where the election offices of the two top contenders—Vijay Hansda of JMM and BJP’s Hemlal Murmu — are located close to each other.

He was referring to the party’s greatest worry — disgruntled Littipara MLA Simon Marandi publicly appealing to Muslims to vote for JVM and the Muslim League while asking the others to vote for Narendra Modi-led BJP.

Accha ho jayega raat me sab ka mood badal jayega. Apna area me bhi suna hai ki JVM Muslim vote par dora daal raha hai. Aaj raat goti set kar denge (It will be good if we can change the mood tonight. I also heard that in my area, JVM is eyeing Muslim votes. Tonight, the trend has to be set right),” the assurance came from the other worker.

The idea was to swing votes in favour of JMM.

Another JMM worker, Mitthu Kumar Datta, admitted that he had regularly been to such “get-togethers”, objecting to the use of “party” to describe them.

Samiksha baithak kahiye. Roj raat ko pure din ki charcha karte hain aur agle din ka plan banaate hain. Han thoda sa manoranjan ho jaataa hai pure din ka thakan utar jaata hai (Call it a review meeting. Every night, we sit together and discuss plans for the next day. It’s true that there is some entertainment as well, which helps us beat stress),” he said.

But he did not elaborate on what he meant by “thoda sa manoranjan”.

The BJP camp, on the other hand, is worried about JMM turncoat Hemlal Murmu’s prospects at his home borough, the Barhet assembly segment. The party office was crowded while former Borio MLA Tala Marandi was busy discussing emerging poll equations.

Roadside hotels have been asked to provide free lunch and dinner to party workers. Payments will be made after the elections. The owners, who also double up as waiters, are not sure whether payment would ultimately depend on the results.

“We have stopped entertaining BJP workers as the food bill is huge. If you go now, the BJP office will offer you only a cup of tea,” complained a hotel owner.

Abhi itni hi sewa kar sakte hain. Fund adhik nahi hai (We can entertain only this much. There is not enough funds),” admitted Tala Marandi.

Probably, money has been diverted to Assembly segments, where chances of winning are less, wondered a source. “People have become professional. Why will they invest time and energy without return? Booze, money and meat are a part of elections. You pay them and they will cheer for you. But do it at your own risk because there is no guarantee that they will vote for you,” said Naval Kishore, a local paan seller, who is doing brisk business these days.


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