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Tamil Nadu Assembly polls | Biryani isn’t everywhere this election, why?

Vegetarian options have replaced the lip-smacking dish this campaign season

In the past, when an election campaign concluded for the day, the smell of mutton or chicken biryani would engulf the street. Party workers would gladly wait to pick up their packet to satiate their hunger after accompanying their candidates in their daily canvass.

Much to the surprise of many, vegetarian options have replaced biryani on many days during this election campaign, say sources in various parties. On most days, only vegetarian fare was given to party workers. “For the morning, we chose to give them idli and vadacurry or pongal and vada; in the afternoon or evening, we gave them a combination of two from lemon rice, sambar rice and tamarind rice,” said a source.

A party worker said it was not feasible to provide biryani often. “We would end up giving away almost double the quantity of biryani than was required since people would take parcels. People would also gather at the distribution points just to take the biryani and we could not drive them away since it would show us in a bad light. Also, most of them would not choose to eat it because of the current weather,” a party source said. For the night, another party worker had organised distribution of dosa and ice cream.

A district-level office-bearer of a party said that in the districts, they were opting to pay those who brought the crowds so that they could buy what they pleased.

“Even today, we paid ₹120 each for 40 persons for biryani and ₹95 each for vegetarian meals for some 80 men. We gave them the option to choose what they wanted since this time many are going for vegetarian choices,” he said.

Biryani sellers, too, say the number of orders they have received this season has been very less than in the past. R. Ramalingam, who runs a biryani catering service in the city, says, “In the past, we would have cadres coming to pick up a bunch of packets to distribute to co-workers after the campaign, but this time we barely saw any orders.”

But biryani is usually a must on the day the nominations are filed, the last two days of campaign, the day of polling and, of course, the day of counting. “We won’t buy the first quality biryani, with more pieces of meat and made with ghee and basmati rice. That costs ₹150 a plate. We opt for the one made with ordinary rice and oil that sells at ₹100 a plate,” explained a seasoned organiser, who went on to say the men and women would expect biryani at least on these occasions. “Hopefully, we will order biryani on the counting day,” he said.

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