Times of India
Jaipur: Kushti Dangal, a neglected traditional wrestling event in Rajasthan, is now attracting politicians in their canvassing of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. As thousand of spectators from far- flung villages gather to cheer from the sidelines during Kushti Dangal matches, politicians cannot afford to give a miss to the opportunity.
In Alwar, Bharatpur and Tonk- Sawai Madhopur region, known for its traditional wrestling and akharas are now taken over by many politicians to garner votes.
During this time, melas are held in these parts and wrestling competitions take place. But with the election fever on, the wrestling arena has taken political colours. Not only politicians are adorning these places but campaigning also reaches feverish pitches in the wrestling arenas.
Bansilal Suthar, a 63 year old villager said Kushti Dangal is an annual event in Alwar and Bharatpur region held in the honour of a local deity. The biggest Kushti Dangal was held at Jawli on Gangaur (April 2), after this it was organized at Kathubmar and Kamma. "The local MLA, sarpanchs and other leaders were present in these dangals. The candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections also came to seek support," Suthar said.
Similarly , in Tonk- Sawai Madhopur, the recent dangal in Piloda village witnessed workers of BJP, Congress and BSP campaigning for their respective candidates. The workers are also looking forward for the popular dangal event coming up in Kandeep village.
"This is a best way connect with voters. People of all age groups and of different castes and creed gather here to celebrate the age-old tradition. Even senior people having good hold on their caste come to see dangals and they can sway the voter," said Rahul Sharma, a BJP party worker in Sawai Madhopur.
These dangal events have its own charm as wrestlers from various akhadas (even from outside the state) came to compete and prove their mettle. Even, betting is involved adding spice to the sport as the cash bet on bouts range from Rs 21, 000 to Rs 51, 000 or even to Rs 1 lakh. "Cash reward is also provided to the winner by politicians and locals," added Ravi Meena , politician.