Most of them also don't have the ticket to vote. "Twice they came and took Rs 10 from us but no ration card yet. Behenji, aap dila do card, hum aapko vote de denge (Sister, you get us the card, we'll give you our votes)," says 30-going-on-50 Hasina. Her husband works in a city shop for 10 hours a day and Rs 900 a month. No attendance, no pay. But even on leave days, there's five mouths to feed.
In comparison, Ehsaan Ahmed is rich. He drives a private car, wears a clean checked lungi and puts oil on his hair. Pockets Rs 2,400 or so at month-end. And he's wisely left his family in the village where he has a vote. Last assembly elections, he rooted for Mulayam. But "nobody bothers about us anyway. And there are no jobs to be had. If we work for others, we'll have nothing to eat. It's good that we are doing something on our own," he observes wryly. Noor Mohammed interrupts. "We are a big voting block over here. How can the politicians ignore us? There has been a lot of work in Lucknow, fine, but what have we got?" Some bodies, on the same evening, crushed by deprivation, hope and the overwhelming need for a Rs-40 sari.