ETAWAHWAH!

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Ho­tel Chanakya – or as the lo­cals call it, Ho­tel Chanak with a twang – in Etawah’s Pur­bia Tola, will be filled to its rafters and rather dodgy rooms by Fe­bru­ary 19. It’s restau­rant (sic) is­dark­evenin­day­ligh­tand­hasa stark qual­ity to it that makes one thinkof­menin­whitekur­tasand muf­fled voices sit­ting around ta­bles. So, it’s the next-door Ho­tel Ku­nal that I choose.

It’s cer­tain more 21st cen­tury like the Sa­ma­jwadi Party 2.0. Be­hindthere­cep­tion­desk,Ranu his half-sleeved white shirt as he gives us a manly namaste). Not too far from this star line-up lies the cards of Ravi Ya­dav, SP dis­trict pres­i­dent, Ha­pur and of the ven­er­a­ble Ram Sun­dar Das Nishad, SP MLA, both at flick­ing dis­tance from Star Beauty Par­lour and Turn­ing Cen­tre’s call­ing card.

Out­side, next to a mosque and ceme­tery,sit­san­oth­er­lessstel­lar gath­er­ing at Salim’s tea shack. Salim is that sin­gu­lar elec­tion­time char­ac­ter – ironic, la­conic and an­gry young manic. “There are an­nounced on March 11, it’s Holi.“Youwatch­howthep­riceof colours will plum­met this Holi. This is Ut­tar Pradesh, b*****d. Some­one will win, some­one will lose, why do we have to get stuck inthemid­dle?Let­metel­ly­outhat this time the prevalant colour of Holi will be khoon (blood).”

Star­tled,but­try­ing­to­beas­dead­pan as Salim, I ask, “But there’s been no real vi­o­lence this time, has­there?”He­fi­nal­ly­look­satme and says, “No.” And he hands me back my change for the tea with ut­ter Etawa-style calm­ness.

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