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.