Jaideep Deogharia-RANCHI: The upcoming elections in the state of Jharkhand are set to be a spirited affair for the Election Commission as it strives to check the use of liquor and other intoxicants by politicians to influence voters. If that’s not enough to get EC’s goat, you also have the goat tournaments.
The crackdown on alcohol will be difficult for the EC in the tribal state where homemade rice beer is considered an essential component of life and is part of religious rituals. However, the agency may take a cue from the Lok Sabha campaigns in some harddrinking states like Punjab and Haryana.
Chad Crowe Chief electoral officer PK Jajoria said he has instructed district returning officers to make sure surveillance teams, flying squads and superintendents of police monitor the distribution of liquor by politicians.
Sudhir Pal, state convener of National Election Watch, said it would be a challenge for the EC and the local administration. “Though the administration announces a dry day on the day of voting, it is practically impossible to check brewing and consumption of rice beer, which is a part and parcel of daily food habits here,” he added.
He feared that ‘khassi’ (goat) tournaments are also a way to sway voters and political parties often sponsor dinner and drinks during these tourneys. In rural areas, goats are given away as trophies after football matches -the number of such tournaments go up during elections. Goats, apparently , have their own version of the Indian Premier League.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha recently organized the JMM Premier League in Dumka ahead of the elections.