Rampaging Pachyderms and the Indian General Elections

No, I am not referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s elephants.

Those elephants are gigantic sandstone ones, about sixty altogether. The Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesman says,”She is wrong to install them. She has spent public money to advertise her election symbol. Each elephant costs a crore and has been carved out of stone.”

I am also not referring to the election symbol of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. Though there is an interesting situation regarding that, because the BSP is not the only party with the symbol of the elephant. A few regional parties, including the Asom Gana Parishad have received permission to use this symbol in their respective states.

I am referring to the fact, that in Jharkhand, along with Maoist rebels, rampaging elephants have become a key voter issue.

Officials say that 60 to 100 people are killed every year by elephants. “A shrinking habitat has forced elephants to raid farmlands and villagers have been encroaching upon forest land to build homes, increasing the man-animal conflict in the state.”

Villagers in Jharkhand say that their votes will go to only those candidates who will help them to get rid of the elephants.

There is a similar problem in Meghalaya, also. Over 200 polling booths in Meghalaya have been identified as ‘sensitive’ due to the fear of rampaging elephants.

A senior forest official said that forest guards along with trained elephants of the wildlife wing and their trainers would be present accompanied by local tribesmen with drums and cymbals to drive away wild elephants.

Polling officers in Tripura are also on the alert for possible elephant attacks on polling day.

All elephants are not on a rampage, though. Some have been recruited for election duty in Assam.

In the heart of the state, which also comprises the capital constituency within Kamrup district, more than five elephants will be used to carry polling personnel and poll materials to hilly and inaccessible areas.”

According to Kamrup district administration, at least three elephants would be used to carry poll materials to a remote polling station along the Assam-Meghalaya border, which can be only reached by foot.”

Elephants are not unlike humans, I think- they seem to come in all types.

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12 thoughts on “Rampaging Pachyderms and the Indian General Elections”

  1. “Elephants are not unlike humans!” Similarities aside, no elephant or any wild cat for that matter can harm the earth’s ecosystem as much as man can! Man can and will endanger all wildlife on earth. Builders will encroach forest lands and without the provocation of this evolved race, perhaps the wild life would never harm humans. You have brought out how these vulnerable animals have been deployed in the electoral process.

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  2. In parts of Assam, you can move from 21st century to 100 AD or thereabout within a few hours. When elephants run amock, they can be dangerous indeed. But when “human” elephants do that, disaster can strike!

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  3. The worst torture on Elephants is done in Kerala. They are used in every Temple festivals and made to endure the loud sound of music, drums and firecrackers. The big difference between Elephants and these politicians are that Elephants never forget anything. A kind gesture or a torture, it remembers it always whereas latter become amnesiac as soon as election results are declared.

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  4. Gopinathji- Yes, it is Man- modern Man- who endangers all wildlife. Our ancestors ‘lived’ sustainable development, we only talk about it.

    Vinodji- Living in a city, it is difficult to imagine the conditions in remote areas.I agree, ‘human’ elephants are the more dangerous kind!

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  5. Biju- Yes, it is sad how we use animals for our own ends without treating them in a humane way.

    Solilo- Between elephants and politicians, elephants would be preferable any time!

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  6. Elephants are such magnificent animals and sometimes i think of their plight that they have adorn the flags of political parties !sigh !They need their habitat. and we seem to be taking it away. And ofcourse, some parliamentarians take the size of elephants but not the other things that go with the elephants !And ofcourse, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Sigh.

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  8. Like Solilo says, I feel so much for the elephants used in temple festivals who have to suffer all that din.While father was working at Idukki, we stayed in a house from where we could sometimes see wild elephants roaming on the hillside across. We also frequently heard of rampaging ones that disturbed life in the foothills. Forced to forage for food by their shrinking habitat.

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  9. It is so sad to see how elephants are used to further our means – be it for election duty or temple festivals.. Also, our encroaching of their forests are equally sad. I remember, when I was younger, on vacation in Wayanad, there were several instances of elephants rampaging into people’s houses and killing people.. But all that was mainly because people started encroaching into their habitats.. And now, we hardly hear of it – am sure it has to do with the dwindling elephant population.. Sad..As for comparing elephants with politicians – am sure the elephants would be extremely offended by that!

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