It’s time for Assam’s most awaited festival – the Rongali Bihu, which marks the beginning of the new Assamese calendar year. The festival has come during election season, which has led politicians to capture the minds and hearts of voters by using the festival as a platform.
Although celebrations for the festival, where people buy new clothes, sing and dance to Bihu tunes, lasts for about a week, this time around with the second phase of Lok Sabha polls about to start, celebrations will be low key.
But for candidates contesting the Lok Sabha polls, the festival marks a good opportunity to build a rapport with voters.
Former Assam Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Sunday, along with Bobeeta Sarma, party candidate for Gauhati constituency, displayed their dancing skills at Latashil, the oldest venue at Guwahati for Bihu celebrations. Ms Sarma’s main opponent, BJP candidate Queen Ojha, also took part in the celebrations.
“In Assam, we have an interesting culture where social life is more important. Thus we come here. It’s not about politics, it’s a public place and we are here to meet and greet people” says Ms Sarma.
“Despite election campaigns, people cutting across political lines are here, enjoying Bihu. We are instead, criticising each other in poll rallies. It should always be like this” Mr Gogoi told NDTV.
Mr Gogoi and Ms Sarma’s opponent however, was more candid about her reason to take part in festivities.
“Through song and dance, we enjoyed with people and I also wanted people to see what I am as a real person not politician,” said Ms Ojha.
Although political parties and politicians say Bihu is not about politics, nothing in the heated election season can be kept away from politics.
Chief Minister Sarabananda Sonowal, showed as much, as he used the Bihu platform to connect with voters.
“Bihu is a festival like Holi. It unites people and the country is now uniting through development that has been fast tracked by the Modi regime,” Mr Sonowal told NDTV.
However, many voters feel the Bihu spirit is being overshadowed.
“I am sure in their heart of hearts, they are nervous about elections and this time to a certain extent, the spirit of Bihu has been over powered by elections,” said Nandita Bailung Baruah, a voter in Guwahati.
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