Sunday, November 05, 2006

Civic elections in Kakori: Witnessing the colourful festival of democracy in the heartland

Photo (C) Shubh M Singh*
I have just returned after spending around 10-12 days in my hometown Kakori [just 15 km from Lucknow] and still can't stop thinking of Hamida, Shanno Bhabhi, Hasrat Ali, Najmi Arfi et al.

How can I forget these names when the loudspeakers blared even after midnight? The election for civic bodies had kept the entire Uttar Pradesh in high mode. 

Though I tried to keep myself disinterested in the beginning, I had to finally succumb to the high pitch of campaigning, the endless discussions & speculations.

It's impossible not to get affected by the election fever in this colourful festival of democracy in the heartland. The amount of money spent and the manpower used in campaigning was astonishing. Independent candidates with symbols like kite, clock, scooter were holding motorcycle rallies that had 100-odd vehicles.

I have seen many parliamentary and assembly polls but the scale of expenditure in a local body elections truly amazed me. Every candidate talked about the 'punya bhumi' of Kakori and the courage of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah in the pre-Independence era but as the D-day approached it all narrowed down to Us and Them.

'There are ten Muslim contestants and just one strong Hindu candidate, so our votes would ultimately be divided and the BJP will win'. 'If SCs don't vote for kite-wala [the BSP had not put up candidates in UP but supported contestants], there is chance of a non-Muslim winning'...such conversations we are all used to.

Attempts to create communal tension and polarise voters, clashes, firing incidents, character assassination of women candidates, gun-toting bullies roaming around & lakhs spent over parties. I saw it all in just over a week.

Where was Election Commission to check the expenditure and how could the stakes be so high in such an election! I kept wondering. The day of polling was November 3 and I left the town a day earlier. So I am now waiting for a word from my cousin about who won.


Sikhs all over the world are celebrating this day. The akhand path and kirtans would be held today to mark the occasion. There will be processions in many cities. Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism and its time to greet all Indians and Sikhs specially on this day.

Desipundit is not shut!

So much hoopla and ultimately Desipundit continues to run like it was. How could Patrix change his mind and hand over reins to others? However, good to see Blogbharti setting off. An alternative and more accommodating blog was needed.

[*The photo courtesy Shubh M Singh]