Election means party time!
Though uncertainty hovers over their prospect of earning a livelihood, the poor in Gujarat are sure that they will get their quota of alcohol at the time of elections even though the sale of liquor is prohibited in the state.
In the shantytowns of Gulbai Tekra and Vadaj in Ahmedabad, the worshipers of Bacchus have been partying during the campaign for the general election, enjoying the unhindered flow of whisky, vodka, rum or gin instead of the usual moonshine.
"Our Diwali or new year celebration comes once every five years at the time of elections. Our bottles of local daroo (liquor) are replaced by pegs of premium liquor," said Jivabhai Makwana, a resident of Gulbai Tekra.
Gulbai Tekra, popularly known as "Hollywood", is notorious for its moonshine industry and underground bars for those who love their glass of the locally made brew.
With the first phase of polling on Tuesday, the scenario has changed here.
"Earlier we would search for secret places to drink but at the time of elections even police turn a blind eye to our swigging in public," said Ramjibhai Parmar, a greengrocer in the shantytown.
Similar scenes can be seen in Vadaj with daily-age workers making a beeline for a certain grocery shop where workers of a political party allegedly distribute pouches containing two pegs of whisky.
"The political parties may be unsure about their prospects but we celebrate their victory over a drink in advance," said Vadaj resident Laljibhai Ramabhai.
On Friday, a consignment of premium liquor worth Rs.1.7 million headed for Gujarat was seized in Rajasthan. The consignment was meant for Ahmedabad but police said the seizure would hardly stem the illicit liquor flowing into the state.
The prohibition department, facing an acute shortage of manpower, is ill equipped to wield its power against the inflow of contraband liquor in this state of Mahatma Gandhi.
But prohibition commissioner R.M.S. Brar said his department was doing whatever it could to stop the inflow of liquor.
"We recently seized liquor worth Rs.500,000 from Bharuch in south Gujarat. We are trying our best with whatever staff we have to prevent the liquor being brought in illegally," Brar told reporters.