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Hills are alive with sound of music

The wave of support for Indian Idol finalists is coming from all communities. Samrat and Amitava Banerjee take us through the north-eastern hills.

delhi Updated: Sep 23, 2007 13:29 IST
Samrat, Amitava Banerjee

Amit: Shillong’s brand ambassador

A Shillong boy’s entry into the finals of Indian Idol is altering reality. Most shops sport posters of 24-year-old Amit Paul. Crowds of girls sit around telephones sending in their votes. Even his house has become, according to his uncle Abhijit Khongsit, “a tourist spot”. Current state urban affairs minister Paul Lyngdoh said, “A small town like Shillong is always in search of heroes… Amit Paul, a Bengali, has flaunted his Shillong roots.”

Meghalaya has a history of violence between the Khasis and settlers from other places, especially the Bengalis. The current wave of support for Amit, coming from all communities, has surprised all. The state government has been asked to declare Amit state ambassador for peace and communal harmony.

Prashant: Darjeeling’s unifying voice

“Vote for Prashant” fever is seeing issues such as the recent spate of landslides and drinking water crisis being put on the backburner.

Local politicians feel that Prashant Tamang has united the Hills and are presenting him as an icon of “the true Gorkha”.

“Prashant has broken the stereotype ‘soldier’ image of Gorkhas,” said Bimal Gurung, a Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader.

Locals want Prashant to win at any cost and have not even spared GNLF chief Subash Ghising. Posters proclaiming that “if Prashant loses, we will not let Ghising return” are splashed all over the town. Ghising is in Indonesia.