Candidates facing elections iron clothes, give a shave to entice voters in India

An election candidate presses clothes as he campaigns in Hyderabad on April 4, 2009. (File photo: AFP)

There is no dearth of Indians who would give their right arm to get elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA). The craze to become a people’s representative in the country’s parliament or provincial legislatures in the world’s largest democracy knows no limits.

Not surprisingly, candidates in poll-bound Telangana state in south India are wooing voters with hair-cuts, ironing clothes, cuddling babies and rustling up dosas – crepe-like pancakes made from fermented batter – in the run-up to provincial elections.

Indian premier TV channel, New Delhi Television (NDTV), telecast footage of former Telengana legislative assembly Speaker, S. Madhusudhana Chary, giving a shave to an amused voter in a barber’s saloon in Bhupalpalle from where he is seeking re-election. The politician is seen cheerfully dabbling with shaving cream, brush and a razor.

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Srinivas Goud, contesting from Mahbubnagar, seems to have pulled out all stops to win over the electorate. He lent a helping hand to construction workers toiling under the harsh mid-day sun before turning into a tailor’s deputy and even assisting a dhobi (washer-man) press shirts and trousers for customers.

Anil Kumar Yadav, on the other hand, seems to think that the way to a voters’ heart is through their stomach. So he resorted to making piping hot dosas at a Hyderabad eatery which passers by relished much to Yadav’s satisfaction evident from the smile which didn’t leave his face.

Another poll candidate, Indra Kumar Reddy, homed in on roadside bathers. He volunteered to pour water on bare-bodied men from taps provided by the local municipality for community use. When a bather’s soap slipped from his hand, Reddy quickly retrieved it from him.

Analysts say that such social service, however cosmetic, is far better than playing the religious card to divide voters and fuel sectarian frenzy to get elected.

In Rajasthan, where elections will be held in December, the police have registered a case against Dhan Singh Rawat, Minister for Rural Development, under section 125 of Indian Penal Code for “promoting enmity between classes in connection with election”.

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Rawat faces legal action for declaring at an election rally that “if Muslims can vote en masse for the Congress, then all Hindus should also unite and go with the BJP and make it win with a thumping majority”.

Commenting on “what’s happening on the street corners of poll-bound Telengana, The Indian Express said in an editorial: “It is a much healthier outreach than politicians engaging in fictitious public works, or the stratagem of seeking donations on an app or publishing donor lists on a website, which are really brand loyalty exercises rather than outreach.”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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