At noon, when Jangalmahal was at the peak of a historic poll, Manoj Mahato was lounging around in his village Birkar. The PCAPA secretary didn't think it was necessary to visit polling centres, unlike other party leaders. Nor did he ask other PCAPA members to come and brief him.
Instead, he spent time with a different breed of visitors on Tuesday - mainly reporters from outside the region.
An idle Manoj and an unperturbed Niyati Mahato, PCAPA leader and Independent candidate Chhatradhar Mahato's wife, could be signs of the beginning of the end of the tribal group PCAPA, which has been the centre of much political chaos in the region.
Chhatradhar, who is contesting the assembly elections from Jhargram, is confined in Midnapore Central Correctional Home and facing trial under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). Like his wife and the PCAPA secretary, Chhatradhar's election agent Bhagbat Hansda was also busy in the last couple of days as they were engaged in canvassing in the area.
"We are sure of Chhatradhar's win. As per our reports, people are favouring us. They are casting their votes against CPI(M) torture and the joint forces and against Trinamool betrayal," said Manoj.
Though, on the poll day, the PCAPA leader's supporters claimed that he is sure to win because the people of the area were supporting him for the sake of development, their activities and body language showed something totally different.
On Tuesday, Trinamool candidate Sukumar Hansda and CPI(M) candidate Amar Basu moved around the area and supervised the polling process and also went to Netai. While these two candidates and their supporters were seen moving from one place to another, in the sweltering heat, the PCAPA leaders chose to stay indoors.
After casting their votes, Niyati and Manoj stayed back home. Niyati got busy with household chores while Manoj, clad in a white kurta-pyjama and a black pen in his chest pocket, stayed at Birkar, with a mobile phone in his hand. He spoke on the phone with party workers and supporters and kept a tab on the poll progress instead of venturing out. Chhatradhar's election agent Bhagbat Hansda was at Dahijuri, in Binpur, Jhargram constituency.
"I hope people have cast their vote for my husband. He had started the movement for their sake and hence is confined in prison. They know this and so will not betray my husband," said Niyati, sitting on a cot in front of her house at Aamlia.
"Chhatradhar is not a factor here. People have decided to oust CPI(M) and to cast their vote in Trinamool's favour. This trend is also taking place here," said the Trinamool candidate at Jhargram.
Basu also chose to ignore the presence of Chhatradhar in the poll battlefield. "People who spread disturbance in the area and turned into a curse for the locals will not get any support here. Their candidate will not get any vote here. People here need peace, and during the PCAPA and Maoist movements, they had only suffered. They will not allow such elements to come back," said the CPI(M) candidate.