Jaipur- In the lead-up to the state assembly elections in Rajasthan, the vibrant atmosphere of electoral preparations, merely 24 days away from polling day on the 25th, is significantly affecting the region. The administrative focus not only revolves around the imminent polling but also encompasses meticulous planning for the subsequent counting scheduled for 3rd December. Regrettably, these extensive arrangements are creating disruptions and challenges for the joyous marriage celebrations taking place across the state.
Following representations from parties and social organisations, the Election Commission of India had shifted the date of polling in Rajasthan from November 23 to November 25.The earlier date coincided with Dev Uthani Ekadashi, considered auspicious by many, as well as thousands of weddings in the state.
The acquisition of buses for numerous election-related tasks is significantly impacting the seamless conduct of wedding festivities.
The simultaneous clash between the assembly elections and the celebratory fervour of weddings has kept vehicle operators on their toes. The administrations in all districts are actively procuring vehicles for the elections, while concurrently, the demand for vehicles for wedding ceremonies is at its peak.
Owing to the elections, drivers find themselves in a quandary regarding accepting wedding bookings. The assembly elections are slated for November 25th, merely two days after Devuthani Gyaras. In anticipation of this, the district administrations plan to take control of vehicles, allocating reserved areas for parking from as early as November 20.
Following the District Election Officers' directives, the process of procuring vehicles has commenced district-wide. In the initial phase, around 150 vehicles have been secured for sector in-charges. Additionally, vehicles assigned to patrol parties have been selected, slated for duty 15 days before the elections. Further vehicle acquisition is planned for polling parties. Should the timely supply of vehicles falter, private and commercial vehicles can be acquired.
The administration stipulates that acquired vehicles cannot be released before the elections. Any release of a vehicle will necessitate a solid reason from the vehicle owner. The election officer retains the authority for any such release. The administration's offered rental rates remain modest during the election period.
Throughout the election period, public representatives and the district administrations express differing demands. The administration tends to offer lower daily fares for vehicles, while public representatives provide better remuneration and additional amenities. Consequently, drivers find it more favorable to rent vehicles to public representatives. Public representatives typically prefer vehicles in good condition without air-conditioning.
Acquisition will be done as per the need. Jhunjhunu DTO Sanjeev Dalal says, How many vehicles are needed has not been decided yet. On the instructions of the District Election Officer, vehicles will be acquired as per the need.
In Rajsamand, the Transport Department has mobilized three teams to procure the necessary vehicles intended for the assembly elections. These teams have initiated the acquisition process by disbursing acquisition forms to vehicle owners. Notably, the compensation for buses used in the elections has been increased to Rs 3,000 per day, up from the previous Rs 2,500. Similarly, cars and jeeps now receive Rs 1,325 per day, elevated from the prior rate of Rs 1,100.
The demand for 284 vehicles within the district has prompted the Transport Department teams to issue acquisition forms, specifically targeting vehicles such as taxis (Dezire, Etios, Indigo, etc.) for Field Surveillance Teams (FST) and Static Surveillance Teams (SST). It is imperative for the acquired vehicles to arrive punctually on the designated dates.
District Election Officer Neelabh Saxena has enforced a prohibition on issuing travel permits for bus operators and taxis from the 18th to the 26th of November. This restriction is in place to divert the vehicles towards election-related duties, thus affecting the availability of transportation for marriage processions and wedding ceremonies. Lists cataloguing the acquired buses are currently in preparation.
Jitendra Aggarwal, a chartered accountant in Udaipur is facing a dilemma as he has an important family celebration on the same day as the elections, 25th November. He had originally booked a seven-seater vehicle, but the driver expressed uncertainty about its availability due to potential election duties. As an alternative, he seeks a five-seater car from a friend. However, the prospect of not securing a seven-seater vehicle could jeopardize the transportation of even two family members. This situation raises concerns specifically for the wedding procession, for which a vehicle is indispensable.
Pushpendra Singh Rathore, a local hotelier, is still in search of a bus to transport his son's baraat to Ajmer on 2November. Despite his inquiries, the prospective bus providers have been unable to confirm their availability as they are uncertain about their own bus availability for the specified date.
Not only the bus services but also garland suppliers, caterers, decorators, and every other sector appear to be swamped and occupied due to the ongoing elections.
On one side, tent owners express concerns about date availability, while political parties and wedding hosts compete for bookings of carpets, chairs, tents, and other essential paraphernalia. With dedication and the election date looming, tent house owners are resorting to excuses due to the high demand from both parties. However, they hint at managing the situation by accepting inflated prices.
Conversely, flower traders, especially garland sellers like Deepak Mali, express delight at the increased demand due to both the election fervour and the surge in wedding preparations. " The elections and the wedding season have significantly boosted the need for flower garlands and bouquets. It's a busy yet exhilarating time for us in the flower business", he chuckles. The escalating demand for flower garlands is not only for welcoming candidates and leaders but also for embellishing wedding venues. However, the heightened election activities have intensified the tension surrounding wedding preparations and led to increased expenses, affecting overall wedding arrangements.