Tribal candidates take rhythmic route to campaign in Sundargarh

In the tribal-dominated district, traditional dance, music, feasting and merry-making are common features of the rural lifestyle.
BJD’s Sundargarh LS candidate Dilip Tirkey dancing with tribal women as MLA nominee Jogesh Singh beats the drum at Bhalubahal village
BJD’s Sundargarh LS candidate Dilip Tirkey dancing with tribal women as MLA nominee Jogesh Singh beats the drum at Bhalubahal villagePhoto I Express

ROURKELA: In the run-up to the upcoming elections in Sundargarh district, candidates are indulging in traditional dance and festivities to strike a chord with the tribal voters.

In the tribal-dominated district, traditional dance, music, feasting and merry-making are common features of the rural lifestyle. And in order to win the votes, tribal candidates in majority of the ST seats are leaving no stone unturned to woo the poor rural voters.

On Tuesday, BJD’s Sundargarh Lok Sabha candidate and hockey icon Dilip Tirkey and MLA nominee from the same seat Jogesh Singh were received by a tribal group with traditional dance amid beating of drums at Bhalubahal village. While Tirkey joined the dancing group to shake a leg with the tribal women, Singh seized a traditional drum and played it.

Tirkey said dance and music are a quintessential part of tribal culture and tradition. “I felt happy participating in the tradition while campaigning to strengthen the electoral prospects of BJD and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” he added. Singh too echoed similar sentiment.

A day back, BJP’s Sundargarh LS candidate and former union minister Jual Oram was seen beating a traditional drum and leading a tribal dance group amid cheers from the crowd. Oram said as he hails from a tribal family, the indigenous culture and tradition is ingrained in him. “Election is a festival of democracy and we celebrate it with traditional dance, music, eating together and merry-making. This creates a bond,” he added.

Sitting BJP MLA of Sundargarh Kusum Tete and her Birmitrapur counterpart Shankar Oram, both of whom are seeking re-election, said tribal lifestyle includes celebration with dance, music and feasting. During the campaign, they join the tribal voters to make them happy and stay connected.

Sundargarh has more than 50 per cent tribal population with a total of around 15.67 lakh voters. The Sundargarh LS seat along with the Sundargarh, Talsara, Rajgangpur, Birmitrapur and Bonai Assembly segments are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Only the Rourkela Assembly seat is unreserved while its connecting Raghunath (RN) Pali segment is reserved for Scheduled Castes.

Tribal activist Manilal Kerketta said the indigenous people are usually innocent and gullible. They largely have a characteristic of trusting politicians with whom they share a natural bond. “However, after decades of deceit, the majority tribal population is now increasingly becoming politically aware and calculative while casting votes. So candidates should nurture no misconception that mingling with tribal voters before elections would make them victorious,” he cautioned.

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