Song meant to denigrate the British raj and sung by prisoners lodged in the Bareilly jail
HYDERABAD: Governor Narayan Dutt Tiwari enthralled a gathering of Telangana leaders here on Monday by rendering verses of a popular Bhojpuri number which he used to sing during the freedom struggle.
As the audience clapped to the tune, the Governor sang several verses and translated them into English for the benefit of the gathering.
The song was meant to denigrate the British raj and was sung by prisoners lodged in the Bareilly Central jail over six decades ago. Mr. Tiwari was one among them.
The Governor’s trip into nostalgia was triggered by Congress MP V. Hanumantha Rao who tried to explain to him that the Telangana dialect and culture was to Andhra Pradesh what Bhojpuri was to Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Tiwari amended this formulation to point out that Bhojpuri was spoken in Bihar too.
The occasion was ‘Alai Balai’, a Telangana term that translates loosely to mean get-together and, in this context, after the Dasara festival. BJP president Bandaru Dattatreya, who was the host, arranged settings to depict festivals of Telangana like Bonalu and Bathukamma besides typical rural professions such as toddy tapping. Toddy tapping was losing its importance as a source of sustenance due to the ban on its sale in municipal areas.
Impressed by the ambience, Mr. Tiwari said that normally he took the salute as the occupant of the Raj Bhavan. “But, here, I salute all of you,” he remarked, touching his hand to his forehead. The Governor earlier had a taste of ‘ambali’ (ragi malt) served in an earthen pot while several political leaders stayed back for lunch to relish dishes like ‘boti dabudam’ (mutton), ‘jonna roti’, ‘sarwa pindi’ and the like.
Other speakers highlighted the richness of Telangana’s cultural heritage which, they said, had not been adequately recognised as also the importance of Dasara festival in the region. T. Devender Goud of TDP went to the extent of saying that people had an unique tradition of displaying camaraderie even with rivals during Dasara.