A container of delicious, hot biriyani is the one thing that combines political organizations. When nominations and campaigning thrust off over the State, the biriyani cauldron regularly keeps boiling. After campaigning for the candidate in the scorching heat, party cadres savor piping hot biriyani, seldom along with a bottle of liquor. However, many biriyani makers assert that the need from political parties is poor in this Assembly election. With the Election Commission of India (EC) vigorously tracing expenditure incited by candidates, including the value of food, biriyani seems to have lost its flavor this season.
“The tradition of giving biriyani began over 20 years ago. It is most often given at meetings endured to present candidates to organizations. Some wealthy candidates also distribute it during campaigns. Before this, normal [vegetarian] meals used to be provided. Even now, candidates who are not wealthy provide only variety rice to the cadre,” said K. Srinivasa Gandhi, ex-councilor of the Vellore City Corporation, who has been in politics for three decades.
Hotels and private caterers in the biriyani business state that, related to the previous elections, sale volumes are below this time. “We have seen close to 10 elections and, every year, we used to sell 300 to 500 packets of biriyani per day, starting from the day of campaigning till elections were over. However, this year, we have not even got one [big] order from political parties. The business has been dull,” said M. Muneer Ahmed, managing director, Star Biriyani, Ambur.
A biriyani maker in Vellore said that election executives have asked businesses to carry on the information if anyone requested more than 100 biriyani packets. “Fearing that it will be added to the election expenditure, many are avoiding ordering biriyani packets. We heard that the cadres are now being given money to purchase food of their choice,” said a private caterer.
N.S.R. Nizamuddin, a private caterer from Arambakkam in the Tiruvallur district said that while the previous Assembly polls, he would get orders for 800 to 1,000 chicken biriyani packets per day. “Orders used to come from different parties, including the big ones — the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). But this time, I haven’t even received one order,” he said.
V.S.Venugopal, who holds Gold Star Biriyani in Chenninaickenpatti junction, Dindigul, said that he had been operating the business for the past 27 years. “We never used to supply biriyani packets. After the campaign, people used to be brought here for lunch or dinner. We used to get at least 100 customers per day. But this time, we have not had even a single election-related person,” he said.
It is not just the biriyani makers some political party workers are also discouraged. “Some of us now have food in our house or sometimes in the house of other cadres. In some places, sambar rice or curd rice is given as it costs less,” said a member of a political party from Vellore.