Campaign Cocktail: How Hooch Swings the Rural Vote


Campaign Cocktail: How Hooch Swings the Rural Vote

Illustration: Akshita Monga


akesh Nishad is Unnao’s busiest man these days. He is in a flurry of activity, running around the veranda of his house, making calls, cutting spot deals, and ensuring things are done and ready in time for the election. The village will go to polls soon, so time is of the essence.

Nishad is not a contesting candidate or a party worker. He is not an electoral office worker. But around election time, his job is more important than any of these roles combined. The lean and greying rickshaw-puller is one of Unnao’s most sought-after men this season. He has parked his rickshaw and has taken up temporary residence at the dingy and dark shed which serves as an illegal stills (a DIY distillation plant), where Nishad manufactures kachi sharab or hooch for the village.