Tourists coming here are curious about the election and its campaign
It’s off-season at Khajuraho as the temperature is rising. The election heat has only helped to further deplete the number of tourists. But those who still come to view these “eternal expressions of love” show as much curiosity for the elections as for these timeless sculptures.
“Sometimes, I sincerely feel that India should promote election tourism. It would be an instant hit,” Shyamlal Rajak, a guide, says.
Mr. Rajak has been a guide for the past 15 years and has interacted with people from across the world. The queries of visitors this season have been mostly about the election, he says.
“During tours and over coffee, foreigners are full of questions about our election process. They ask how does the government provide such massive security for so many days. How does a polling officer know which voter card is genuine and which one fake, and how the booths are made to work efficiently,” Mr. Rajak says with a tinge of amusement on his face.
Such is the curiosity that they want to know how the Prime Minister is elected and what makes a person decide on whom to vote for. “Not a single tourist leaves Khajuraho without asking a few questions about elections,” he says.
The reason for the low tourist inflow is partly elections. “Heightened checking, police barricades and intensified scrutiny arouse curiosity among visitors, which eventually leads to queries about elections,” he says. Honestly, if the government is able to promote “election tourism,” it will be wonderful, he suggests to instant approval from a group of foreigners who overheard the conversation. “Yes, yes, of course,” they nod in agreement.
Though a small, thinly populated town, Khajuraho has five five-star hotels, an airport and a railway station. The Lok Sabha constituency by the same name has eight Assembly segments and has been with the Bharatiya Janata Party since 1989, except in 1999 when Satyavrat Chaturvedi of the Congress won it. Uma Bharti of the BJP was elected from here four times.
At present, the seat is held by Jeetendra Singh Bundela, but the BJP has given the ticket to Nagendra Singh this time, who is pitted against Raja Paleria. Both have served as Ministers in Madhya Pradesh.
As in the entire State, the competition is mainly between the BJP and the Congress. A chat with shopkeepers and local people lead to talk of “Modi wave,” as some preferred to describe it.