A huge waterproof arched pandal with a big dais, women seated on plastic chairs in rows in colourful attire and carpet of gravels spread to absorb water. This is the scene at Ashoka Garden area in Bhopal, a part of the minister of state for cooperative Vishwas Sarang’s assembly constituency Narela.
The women, many with their children, wait eagerly for the minister to come. There is a flutter when the minister arrives in his SUV with red light beacon along with his wife and followers. Petals are showered on the couple as they make way to the dais where they sit on a swing. Workers raise Zindabad slogans constantly to give a fillip to the atmosphere.
This is yet another year for the minister to celebrate Rakshabandhan with the female constituents of his constituency.
The extended celebrations which started on August 23 will go on till September 3 with one or two wards selected for the celebration every day.
Call it a political compulsion to be constantly in touch with the constituents and strengthen his political base to win elections or the MLAs’ endeavour to use Rakshabandhan as an effective method to get better of his rivals, Sarang has been celebrating extended Rakshabandhan festivals for more than 10 days at a stretch in his constituency.
The difference between the celebrations this year and the same in the previous years is the MLA’s new found status as the minister (Sarang was inducted in the state cabinet on June 30) which is well reflected in the elaborate arrangements.
Before rakshasutra tying spree starts, the minister addressed the gathering and reminds them of the personal bond between the two sides as a brother and sister which is beyond ‘the problems like overflowing nullahs, bad road conditions and non-functioning street lights which people in the area are facing’.
The young minister also reminds the gathering of the gift they are supposed to carry with them from the dais as a gift from a brother to his sisters.
“Jab tumhara bhaiya bada aadmi ban jayega to sabko ek ek bungalow dega par abhi to jo bhi gift hai use sweekar kariye (When I become wealthier, I will gift you all one bungalow each but please accept whatever little gift I have for you),” he said.
The gift includes bangles, a poster of lord Shiva, three books on fasting by women on religious occasions and some Pooja articles.
Kantibai, whose husband passed away a few years ago and who lives in the locality with her three children, said, “I have been attending such functions for the past three years. I expect the minister will give jobs to my children if he really thinks he is my brother.”
Shivkumari, another resident, is not that enthused. She said there was no use of such programmes if there was no change in their life.
Sarang, however, said, “Rakshabandhan is a permanent fixture of my constituency. I don’t have to do anything. The party workers do everything. This is a way to renew my personal bond with my constituency people.”