Amid the increasing use of social media for campaigning in urban areas, candidates in Madhya Pradesh’s tribal-dominated Jhabua assembly segment are still reaching out to voters with the traditional ‘khatla’ meetings and ‘haat’ processions.
A charpoy is known as ‘khatla’ in the local dialect of Jhabua which is a stronghold of Bhil tribals.
These meetings are a way of interacting with voters while sitting on a cot.
The candidates believe that ‘khatla’ meetings and processions taken out in ‘haat’ (local markets) are quite effective and help in connecting better with voters living in remote and scattered settlements of Jhabua.
Such meetings have increased in Jhabua constituency, which is reserved for tribal candidates, as campaigning for the November 17 assembly elections reaches its peak.
During one such meeting held recently after dusk in a rural area of Jhabua, Congress candidate Vikrant Bhuria told PTI, “The Khatla meeting is related to the culture of tribals. It’s not just about elections. Even at other times, people sit on cots and resolve all the issues through mutual discussions.”
“Haat Bazaar” is also a major place of social interaction in the tribal areas of Jhabua, he added.
BJP candidate Bhanu Bhuria has been reaching out to voters by taking out processions in these weekly markets along with ‘khatla’ meetings.
During one such procession in Bori village, the BJP candidate said, “Social media may be popular in urban areas during elections, but khatla meetings have their own charm here.”
“Khatla (charpoy) is our pride and honour. In tribal areas, making a person sit on a cot indicates respect, and interactions take place with great affection during such meetings on a cot,” he said.
The ‘khatla’ meetings in Jhabua are an important part of the election strategy of political parties and there is a fierce competition among the BJP and Congress candidates as to who conducts such meetings first and more than the other.
There is also a geographical reason behind the campaign exercise of ‘khatla’ meetings in Jhabua.
A large tribal population in the region lives in ‘falias’ (scattered settlements with houses built on valleys) located in remote areas where holding public meetings is practically not possible.
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