No drums to beat rivals this poll season | delhi | Hindustan Times
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No drums to beat rivals this poll season

The Election Commission and the Delhi Police have restricted the use of drums during campaigning and rallies this year.

delhi Updated: May 02, 2009 00:27 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Election time is usually good business for Ashok Bhatt and others like him. But this year, things are different.

Bhatt (35) is a dholwallah (drummer). Weddings and elections are the times when he earns the most. This year, even as campaigning for the Lok Sabha election is in full swing, he has no work.

The Election Commission and the Delhi Police have restricted the use of drums during campaigning and rallies this year.

“The wedding season is still sometime away and I'm jobless right now,” Bhatt said, sitting in his “office” in Shadipur. Some others were drumming away to attract clients.

“Usually we are very busy during the elections, beating drums in rallies, meetings and padayatras. This time the use of drums have been banned. Apart from a few offers to beat drums at politicians’ residences for functions, there is no work,” he said.

However, due to the restrictions imposed by the Election Commission and also the Delhi Police on use of drums during election campaigning and rallies, they are losing out on business.

Bhatt’s family, like most of his neighbours, had moved to Shadipur from Rajasthan more than 40 years ago. They are all drummers by profession and earn their living through it.

“It’s in our blood. I learned from my father and have been beating drums ever since I can remember,” said Chiran Bhatt, another dholwallah. “Though some of our children are now getting education and want to take up another profession, this is the only thing men of my generation can do,” he said.

Moaning the loss of business to television, Chiran Bhatt said: “Election campaigns have lost their colour. Now the politicians advertise on television and they are all over everywhere. They don’t need dholwallahs to grab attention of voters.”.

They, however, admit that weddings are better business than election campaigns. “There is not much money in campaigns. The leaders give us Rs. 300 per dholwallah. Sometimes, they just speed away in their cars after a campaign without even paying us,” said Anil, another dholwallah.

“There is no limit to how much money you can make at a wedding,” he said.