It's tradition over tech in tribal campaign

RANCHI: Bou baashate phulo jhori gala, ghorero majhe beti re jonom lila, bhhaire ghore shubho shubho.. (the birth of a girl child has brought fortune to the house)..This isn't just a tribal folk song but a way for parties in Jharkhand to strike a chord with rural voters. Move over high-tech SMSes and emails. In this state, it is tradition that counts.

"In tribal culture, a girl child is auspicious for the family and village and during elections, parties use this traditional sentiment to the hilt," says Rajaram Mahto who scripts poetry and songs in local languages like Kurmali, Panch pargania and Santhal language for election campaigns.

If the girl child is one issue, the traditional Chhau dance, karam and tussu festival are other planks. "Candidates promise government stipends for those engaged in upholding culture," Mahto adds.

As for IT-savvy politicians, they are a scarce breed here. "What is there in an SMS or email, just press the delete button and the message disappears," says former state minister and Jharkhand Janadhikar manch (JJM) candidate from Ranchi Lok Sabha constituency Bandhu Tirkey. Tirkey, a postgraduate and a former bank official, points out that technology is useless in a state where the literacy rate is still a little above 50%.

Besides music, sports is a big vote winner so traditional khassi tournaments (football matches in which the winner team gets a goat as prize followed by a feast) become a common sight in villages. Both the goat and feast are sponsored by the candidates.

The way to a voter's heart is through his stomach so candidates also sponsor village picnics. The food and wine (local brew haria) flows and candidates hope the votes will too.