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Politicians campaign at weekly 'haats' in remote tribal areas as Odisha goes to polls

The two ST-reserved seats and their assembly segments will go to polls in the first phase of simultaneous elections in the state on May 13.
Last Updated : 09 May 2024, 08:17 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2024, 08:17 IST

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Koraput (Odisha): Recognising the limitations of technology in remote areas, politicians of different hues have taken to weekly 'haats' to reach out to people in Odisha's Koraput and Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seats.

The two ST-reserved seats and their assembly segments will go to polls in the first phase of simultaneous elections in the state on May 13.

Kausalya Hikaka, the BJD candidate for Koraput Lok Sabha seat, said, "In tribal areas like this, we cannot depend solely on hi-tech campaigning methods as many people are poor and illiterate or semi-literate with limited access to smartphones or television."

"Also, tribal villages are located at a distance from one another but people converge at weekly 'haats', where campaigning becomes easy," she said.

Incumbent MP and Congress candidate for Koraput, Saptagiri Ulaka, campaigned at Kakiriguma weekly 'haat' along with the party's Laxmipur assembly segment candidate, Pabitra Saunta.

"Weekly markets offer an opportunity to effectively connect with a large number of people from varied locations, thus saving both time and money," Ulaka said.

'Haats' are held on specific days every week at fixed locations and fulfill essential needs for local residents, besides serving as vital hubs for socio-cultural interactions within tribal communities. These markets have now become the focal point for political discourse.

The sudden influx of political leaders into these 'haats' has also transformed the atmosphere as villagers accustomed to the routine of trade and social interaction are now encountering a politically charged environment.

Hemant Gouda, a resident of Lathikotar village in Koraput, expressed surprise over seeing politicians at Ranaspur haat.

"No politician has visited our village due to its remoteness. But seeing them at the 'haat' was unexpected... the 'haat' now feels entirely different," he said.

Similarly, Bhima Kirsani, who attended Korkunda haat, remarked, "The 'haat' has been infused with political discussions, and we are enjoying listening to the politicians."

As per reports, there are around 200 large and small 'haats' in Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts.

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Published 09 May 2024, 08:17 IST

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