20 January, 2021

Who Cares For The Voters?

Who Cares For The Voters?

AT the Sangam, where the holy waters of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati mingle, the wiliest pollsters on the plains of northern India ply their traditional trade as Mallahas (boatmen) to thousands of pilgrims who come from afar to bathe at the confluence. The devotees talk and the Mallahas listen.

I have great faith in the political wisdom of the Mallahas who only reveal their knowledge after many protestations of modesty. "What do we know? We are poor and unlearned. Who cares about what we think or say?" I persist as they were dead right in their poll predictions when I had last visited them on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections in December 1984 and before that, on the eve of the fateful March 1977 elections which had sent the Gandhi family packing for a few years.

After much prodding, Jagannath Nishad, 45, comments: "BJP ka zor hai. Par ham garibon ki kaun sunega?" (The BJP is going strong. But who is bothered about us poor?). A younger boatman, Ramnarain Nishad, 32, contests Jagannath's statement. Ramnarain says that Saroj...



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