For all those involved in electioneering during India's blistering summer, here are some tips from the experts: fill up on fruit juice, cut down on coffee and stay comfortable in cotton. While rival candidates cross swords on the election battleground, vociferously disputing each other's promises and claims, they all agree on one thing -- campaigning for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections has not been not easy as temperatures head toward 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of the country.
"I thrive on a sugar-free and gluten-free diet to keep going," Union minister Babul Supriyo told PTI. "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," said Supriyo, who is contesting from Asansol in West Bengal, a seat he won in 2014 also.
During lunch break, he visits party activists at home and shares food with his supporters. Supriyo's regimen is the way to go in keeping fit for the campaign, according to preventive medicine specialist, Dr Debasish Basu.
He said it is important to have fluids and oil-free food to avoid dehydration. "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 soft 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 said 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 allow better air flow, to beat the summer heat," he added.
Quite like Supriyo, BJPs 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 nightlong cricket tournament. The love and the adulation you receive from people are your stress-busters in this heat."
Chowbey is particular about his choice of clothes for padyatra and road-shows. "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.
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, the preventive medicine doctor, 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, he said. But sip watermelon juice once in a while, he advices.
Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Maitra, who is 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 said. 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 locals house for lunch. There are tube wells installed across the constituency. When I am thirsty, I drink water from a tube well," the 61-year-old veteran leader and sitting MP from Raiganj added.