Beating the heat: Poll candidates reveal ways of braving the scorching sun during campaigns
Kolkata: With the election fever having reached its peak, candidates are literally sweating it out in the Sun, as they make their last-ditch effort to woo the electorate.
Even as the opposing parties cross words on the battleground, one issue that has served as a unifying factor for the candidates is the travails of canvassing under the scorching sun.
Nothing, however, can bog them down at this last-minute as they continue to brave the heat with summer-friendly clothes and a balanced diet.
For Saugata Roy, TMCs Dum Dum constituency candidate, a wet towel and insulin injections are a part of his every day campaign kit.
"I usually place a wet towel on my head and drink electrolyte water when campaigning in the sun. I have to eat outside on most days, which is not a very healthy thing to do. At times, I even forget to take my insulin injections," he sighed.
Basu, however, warned candidates with diabetes against drinking too much water.
"Candidates often get stressed, when addressing a rally or participating in a debate. It can have a direct impact on sugar levels. It is best to avoid drinking too much water, while sipping watermelon juice instead, once in a while," he added.
Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Maitra, who is party supremo Mamata Banerjee's pick for the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat, makes it a point to apply sunscreen lotion and wear sunglasses when she leaves home for campaigning. The ruling party nominee also eats less when out in the heat, but drinks water every now and then to stay hydrated.
"I usually eat vegetable-based dishes and fruits for lunch. Also, I wear full-sleeve muslin shirts and cotton saris to avoid heat exposure. A strong sunscreen lotion and sunglasses are a must during the peak hours," she maintained.
Union minister and BJP candidate Babul Supriyo, who hits the campaign trail around 9 in the morning, usually carries home-cooked food with him. During lunch break, he visits a party karyakarta's home, sharing food with his supporters.
"I thrive on a sugar-free and gluten-free diet to keep going. There are times, however, when people offer me a sweet or a sherbet which I cannot refuse. Apart from that, music keeps me upbeat under the blazing Sun. I keep humming songs, it helps me maintain my cool," the singer-turned-politician said.
Quite like Supriyo, BJP's Krishnanagar candidate Kalyan Chowbey loads his vehicle with fruits, coconut water and curd.
"My day starts at 7.30 am. I first visit the local market, talk to people before taking to the streets with my team. My day ends sometime around midnight, or even extends beyond that. Only the other day, I participated in a night-long cricket tournament. The love and the adulation you receive from people are your stress-busters in this heat," Chowbey said.
Chowbey is also particular about his choice of clothes for padyatra and roadshows.
"During the day, I stick to linen clothes and drink lots of coconut water to stay hydrated. As I am a vegetarian, my diet usually consists of chapatti, dal and sabzi (veggies)," he added.
According to preventive medicine specialist Dr Debasish Basu, it is important to have fluids and oil-free food to avoid dehydration under the Sun.
"Political candidates or any person for that matter should avoid caffeine and fizzy drinks when out in the Sun for long hours. The sugar in the cold drink gives an immediate kick, but the phosphoric acid in it dehydrates the body. It is important to drink room-temperature water and stick to fruit juices and less-oily food to get going," he said. Basu also insisted that candidates should wear cotton and linen clothes to stay comfortable.
"Cool and breezy clothes help us stay comfortable under the scorching Sun. I would suggest cotton, linen and other breathable fabrics, which allows better air flow, to beat the summer heat," he added.
Unlike Chowbey or Moitra, CPI(M)s Raiganj candidate Mohammed Salim claimed that he does not adopt any particular measure to beat the heat during canvassing as meeting people and party workers in the day is "part of his everyday routine".
"I usually eat less oily food, all round the year. When I am out campaigning, I halt at a local resident's house for lunch. There are tubewells installed across the constituency. When I am thirsty, I drink water from a tube well," the 61-year-old leader and sitting MP from Raiganj added.