Salem politicians trip on dhotis
Ballot battles in India often border on the surreal.
But in a Tamil Nadu district, it's the sartorial border that is drawing the battlelines with an election observer on one side and the multitude of political parties on the other.
If the Salem observer has his way, the DMK, AIADMK, PMK and MDMK cadres might have to change their dhotis.
No, the poll panel does not have anything against the traditional garment nor does it want local politicians to turn out in suits. But what got the observer into a flap is the dhotis' borders, patterned on the colours of the cadres' political affiliations.
This, he ruled, is a breach of election norms and asked the local police to get the party functionaries to change their dhotis. But the police's reply stumped him. "For all you know they may have only these kind of dhotis. If you object too much, they might come without dhotis," one officer returned.
Grudingly, he conceded the point but was resolute that he could not allow them to sport the objectionable dhotis on election day since that would amount to indirect campaigning.
The result: Fuming cadres are adding one new dhoti — with neutral borders — to their election expenses.
The same observer had earlier wanted posts with party flags in and around Salem removed claiming they, too, violated election rules. But the police reminded him that the posts were not put up for the elections but had been there for years.
Party workers offered to remove the flags but the observer pointed out that the flag posts were painted in party colours. The cadres were left with no option but to paint the posts a uniform white after removing the flags.
"These observers, who come from other states, are unable to adjust to the different political culture here. Especially officials from smaller states simply cannot come to terms with even security issues," said a senior officer.
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