With scorching heat, Maoist threat and hilly terrain making it difficult to reach all the voters, shandies are found useful by contesting candidates and their supporters

Shandies, the weekly markets, have turned a favourite destination for campaigning by the contesting candidates in the district. With scorching heat, Maoist threat and hilly terrain making it difficult to reach all the voters, shandies thronged by thousands of tribals have come handy for the candidates and their supporters.

With colourful banners and festoons, they make a beeline from early hours. An estimated 10,000 tribals from Araku, Dumbriguda and Anantagiri mandals visited the shandy here on Friday. For the tribals in the Scheduled Areas of Eastern Ghats, the shandies offer a festive atmosphere where they buy provisions and other requirements. Before leaving for home, they pep up their spirit by consuming locally brewed liquor called ‘maddi kallu’.

“Shandies have come handy for us. It is budget friendly with a wide reach,” said Gullivendula Suvarna Kumari, former sarpanch of Gunta Gannela in Dumbriguda mandal. Among others who campaigned at the shandy here include CPI (M) polit bureau member B.V. Raghavulu, his party’s MP and MLA candidates M. Babu Rao and Killo Surendra, TDP nominee for Araku Assembly seat Siveri Soma, YSRC leaders Vantala Venkata Rao and Subba Rao, Jai Samaikyandhra Party nominee Vempuri Gangullaih and independent candidate Pelu Mala Ranjit Kumar. Not only politicians, police in Maoist-hit areas use shandies at R.V. Nagar, Chintapalle, G.K. Veedhi and Palavalasa to conduct voters’ awareness programmes.