In the sweltering heat at a modest gathering in Bokaro’s Mango panchayat, which falls under the Dhanbad Parliamentary constituency, cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad exits his SUV and makes his way to the chairs among the lower rung of the Mahagathbandhan functionaries.
Wednesday was the first time the Congress leader addressed the people at this area, and he was dressed in a pink kurta with a stole marked with his party’s symbol.
In his address, the common refrain was that he is a “member of 1983 World Cup winning team” and is the “first Jharkhandi to bring the World Cup” home. He also said that the Congress’s NYAY scheme — the party’s proposed minimum income guarantee scheme — will enable his constituents to eat “maach bhaat (fish curry rice)” and that he should be given a “chance” in this election over the incumbent, BJP’s Pashupati Nath Singh, who he called “inaccessible”.
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“Congress ki sarkar aapko Nuyantam Ayay Yojna mein aapko 72000 salana degi. Aap daal, bhaat, tarkari kha sakenge aur thoda sa maach bhaat bhi. Humko khilayenge na, hum rohu, katla, pothia aur jangli machli bhi khaate hain. Aur humko jhaal khana pasand hai, khilayenge na (Congress’s government will give you Rs 72,000 under the NYAY scheme. You will eat dal, rice and vegetables and fish curry and rice too. Will you also feed me? I eat rohu, kalta, pothia and other wild varieties of fish and I like it spicy… will you feed me?),” said Azad.
Later, in the Sabra market area of the constituency, chairs were arranged and a fresh cloth spread on the table. “Aapka Ashirwad milega na? Hamare number 1 hai (serial number) and uspe vote dijiye, do number aadmi ko mat dijiye (Will I get your blessings this time? I am placed at serial number 1 on the voting day and vote on that. Do not vote for people who are not genuine),” he said.
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Around 5.30 pm, Azad reached Pondru village in Chas block of Dhanbad constituency. He repeated the same thing: the 1983 World Cup, fish curry and rice, Modi’s promise of Rs 15 lakh, and Singh’s inaccessibility, when he was interrupted by a resident.
“Modi ji kiye hain humlog ke liye bahut kuch kiye hain, aur hamare local MP aate hain yahan par. Aap kaise bol rahe hain? (Modi ji has done a lot for us and our local MP has come here many times. How are you saying all this?),” the resident said.
Azad said he hasn’t seen any development in the village and said the man was talking without any logic. Amidst the ruckus he cut short his speech and left for another venue.