Wednesday 26 September 2018

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

Post : Mumbai, Taluka : Konkan; the victory formula !

 

Do you want to win elections in Ratnagiri and Rajapur constituencies of the Konkan region of Maharashtra ? Then hold election meetings in Mumbai. Mere contacts in the actual constituency is of no use.

The voter, of course, is in the village. But their remote control is in Mumbai, also called Dubai of Konkanis. He is called chakarmani, the one working in Mumbai as the head of the family, which actually stays in the village.

This is the reason why both the constituencies are women-dominated, comprising around 57 per cent of the total electorate. Today, Ratnagiri has 4.86 lakh female voters against only 3.69 lakh male voters. In Rajapur, it’s 4.51 lakh against 3.49 lakh. They were above 60 per cent in late ‘70s.

The chakarmani visits the village only twice in a year, for the Shigmo festival after Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi, in August-September, or occasionally for the annual village feast. It’s the "money-order culture", on which the Konkan survives.

Equally important is his fatwah sent during elections, by post or a special visit paid to his native place. Over 80 per cent families live on money orders and vote as per "political orders" from Mumbai.

Even the candidates, though from outside, are not imposed but a popular choice of chakarmani. That’s why Anant Geete, Shiv Sena’s Mumbai councillor, gets elected with thumping majority in Ratnagiri or Major Sudhir Sawant or Suresh Prabhu in Rajapur ; Post : Mumbai, Origin : Konkan.

Each village has a Gram Vikas Mandal (Village Development Council) in Mumbai, having chakarmani members belonging to all the political parties and thoughts. They don’t fight over it in the councils, but attend separate meetings called by different parties, strictly for election purpose.

The Sena meetings are held in Sena Bhavan, Congress meetings in Tilak Bhavan and so on... For Lok Sabha, only two meetings are held for two seats. But for the Assembly polls, 12 different meetings are held, one for each Assembly segment.

Being basically the mill worker, the chakarmani got drifted towards the Sena after the mills were closed and he was thrown on the roads. Sena helped them to continue living in Mumbai and they helped Sena to grow in the villages, since late ‘80s.

By now, the voter in the village has heard all the political leaders. They are now awaiting "orders", two days prior to the polls. After all the electioneering, that would decide the fate of each and every candidate....

  

YEH HAI INDIA - II

Long long ago, the then ruling Congress party said : "we will make Konkan the California of Maharashtra". In retaliation, the ruling Shiv Sena has now promised a separate state of Konkan.

But Machindra Kambli, the famous theatre personality and the Congress candidate, has something different to offer. It’s something like "if you have no bread, then eat cake".

Realising the hardships his Konkani brothers and sisters are going through, he has fixed two priorities, if elected. The first one is to provide loans for self-employment and the second one – an air-conditioned theatre in every taluka town !!!

Though based in Mumbai for over three decades now, he is very popular in Konkan, mainly because of his dramas, performed fully in Malwani accent. Capitalising on it, he also organised Malwani Sammelan to strengthen the Malwani identity.

Elections is the next step for him. Does he differentiate between theatre and politics ? "No. As there is politics in theatre circles, election politics is also like a drama", he says, in his witty style.

His election speeches in Malwani accent, combined with sarcastic comments about his opponents, is a free show for the voter, who does not miss a single meeting of his. But would he pay it back in the form of a vote ? Nobody knows.






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