Elections in Garhwal in Old Time
In old time, the election season was more interesting and was in its simplest form.
Like, Akashvani used to praise only Congress candidates and the broadcasting officers were punished if they broadcasted about opposition candidates. I hope Akashvani would be keeping its custom alive for not talking about non-ruling party candidates.
Like, when I was in my teen there was no television in India and the voters were happy for not knowing much about corruption at election time as today’s TV channels provide only bad news and the viewers get confused if all candidates are Chor/ucchakae it is better for voters not to cast their votes.
Like, there were very few media for publicity for election contesters as posters, cloth banners, pamphlets and newspaper advertisement were the only medium. . Therefore, the election commission was not worried for over expenses by the candidates. Though, congress or ruling party candidates (congress candidates) used to spend money more than what was under rule except late Bhakt Darshan ji. Late Bhakt Darshan Ji was true Gandhian and he used to send pamphlets with a message “Kakh Raige Neeti Kakh raige Mana , Shyam Singh Patwarin kakh Kakh jana.” Since, Garhwalis in Garhwal and in plains knew Garhwali language, most of the voters used to vote for Bhakt Darshan Ji and Bhakt Darshan Ji used to become Member of Parliament. Later on, when Garhwalis started hating their own mother tongue in their own mother land Garhwal and foreign that is Pardesh Bhakt Darshan Ji left active politics. Bhakt darshan ji was clever but Gandhian politician. When he came to know that Garhwalis were unable to understand their mother tongue, it was improper for him to do publicity through only one slogan and that was in Garhwali “Kakh Raige Neeti Kakh raige Mana , Shyam Singh patwarin kakh Kakh jana.” Bhakt Drashan Ji wisely left contesting election because he never knew other slogan or election propaganda in his life.
Jag Mohan Singh ji was always a man to walk with time or precisely behaved as per time and he never printed pamphlets or posters in Garhwali. His way of election campaign was also simple as he had the legacy of Congress workers born by freedom movement. Therefore, he never needed big campaign for his campaign. Bhairav Datt Dhulia Ji fought assemble election against his fast freedom movement companion Jagmohan Singh Negi ji . Everybody of his time will vouch that Bhairav Datt Dhulia ji never fought election for power but for the cause. Dhulia ji lost election first time but defeated his own friend Negi ji second time. Both were shocked. Bhairav Datt ji was shocked to see the worsening characters of politicians in Lucknow and resigned from Uttar Pradesh assembly as he was a man of principle and not a man using politics for his own selfishness. Jagmohan Sing Negi also had a shock of loosing election in grieve shock, Negi ji resigned from his life and died.
I remember one candidate Chaudhari Bihari lal ji as an independent candidate against Jagmohan Singh ji. His agents were very honest. The agents of Bihari lal ji used to do hard works by distributing pamphlets, sticking posters and speaking about Bihari lal Ji through a hand Bhompu. Most of the agents used to conclude speeches that Jagmohan Ji would win the election but in case, the voters did not like Jag Mohan ji they should caste for rising sun a symbol of Bihari Lal ji. In Garhwali it is as “Bhaison chhutyun ghas chhwta chhwata bachhrun khuni”
When I was in primary school, election had more benefits to industrious students than candidates. We used to face sever scarcity of rough papers for doing rough works in our school days. When election days used to come alive, we industrious students used to be happy as we would get pamphlets supplied by election contender’s agents. There was always shortage of pamphlets of Congress party candidate and the pamphlets of runner up candidate. However, the pamphlets of independent candidates were available more than the above cited candidates. Our job was to shout the slogan of candidates before candidate’s agents and try to get pamphlets from the agents as much as we could. We students used to sew the pamphlets with every care and used to make a note book. We used to use empty back side as rough papers mostly for math’s questions. First, we used to write by pencils, rub it, wrote by pencils again, rub it again and lastly wrote by pen. I could consume these pamphlets within two months. However, many students used to have those pamphlets for a year so. But those students were not industrious ones.
The Election Day was as good as fair for our villagers. On that time, Bareth School was polling booth and if not more at least twenty villages were attached to Bareth School. Most of the people were more interested to meet relatives or family friends there at Bareth School than casting the votes. Since, on those days, democracy was not in danger people were not eager to vote. These days, elite people are not eager to vote and our democracy is in danger. Congress agent as late Nanda Datt Kukreti ji of Gweel used to come with whole of Gweel with Dhol-Damau and Mushakbaj . There used to be Pando dance and song in the play ground of Bareth School sponsored by Nanda Datt ji in fact by Congress. Nanda Datt ji ‘Manager Sab’ never minded that supporters of Bhairav Datt Dhulia ji also dancing in the Mandan sponsored by Congress party and for that matter the supporters of Dhulia ji never minded that they were dancing in the Mandan financed by Jagmohan Singh ji.
Later on, at the time of Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna ji verses Chandmaohan Singh Negi ji election , Nanda Datt ji and his troop came with same pattern but music troop and Nanda Datt ji were stopped far away from Bareth school less by the election officer and more by supporters of Bahuguna Ji . People were not conscious but agents were more election conscious.
Voting inside the election centre was very simple and we children were allowed to watch the whole electoral procedure by election machinery hoping that we would be better voters in future. Those who were well aware about electoral procedure (who could read) they were supposed to cast their votes alone. However, women or who did not know reading were helped by all. When my mother came to cast for voting, the election machinery person asked my mother for her choice of candidate. My mother saw towards Jogi dada (who was also agent for Dhulia Ji) and Jogi dada answered, “Dhulia Ji”. No agents of congress and other candidates objected. Jogi dada, my mother and I entered the room and Jogi dada helped my mother to cast her vote on Taraju (weighing balance). Since, agents and all were honest, no body objected such practice.
My father came to Mumbai before 1940. However, his name was there in ration card and in election list in Garhwal till his death. From government point of view, my father was citizen of Garhwal and not of Maharashtra. One of my cousins, who was migrated to Dehradun and by an oversight, his name was not there in voting list casted vote (for Dhulia ji) on my father’s behalf and no agent protested at all. I heard that at the time of Bahuguna Ji verses Negi ji parliamentary election, the persons complained to election officer about their cousins for their malpractices of voting on other behaves. The famous Bahuguna Ji verses Negi ji parliamentary election introduced various types of election malpractices in Garhwal unheard before that time.
These days, everyone in my village is educated; there are ten types of media making people more conscious about election. But I heard from my childhood mates that now a days, elections are more of formalities and elections are losing emotional charms of old days which we and our elders used to enjoy election as Athwad, Bhitarpanchhi, Kalirttri or Khaul-Myala (community religious rituals or fair) .