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Photograph: Jewella C Miranda
'Advani is a good man'
NAME: The Betwalas, Mumbai

The Betwalas are a family of 20, give or take a few kids, and a dog named Laloo. They live in two rooms, next to an Enfield motorcycle workshop on a lane off Mahim Causeway in north-central Mumbai. The clan of uncles, nephews, aunts, grandmother, grandchildren keep busy from dawn to dusk weaving long strips of bet or cane into chiks or Indian-style blinds. Or they shave and carve cane with sharp sickles into baskets and furniture. It takes just a day for one member of the home to weave a cane blind for one window (priced at Rs 30 per square foot).

Originally from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, they have been living in Mumbai for the last 40 years. "We are from here," says Lakhanwal Betwala, 35 (far right, in a Hawaiian shirt) firmly. Mother Shanti, 60, (centre, in a chair) heads the family and she along with at least five others -- if all their voting cards are in order -- plan to vote in the coming election.

"We are going to vote for the Shiv Sena," says Lakhanwal, spokesman of the home, without a moment of hesitation. "They do all our work. They clean the road in front here and get rid of the puddles of stagnant water when they begin to accumulate. We have known someone in their office nearby for a long time. All we have to do is call them and they do the work. We will be voting up the road at the school over there.

"Yes I will be voting for Sena," says Shanti.

Adds Lakhanwal, "For the Centre I think [L K] Advani is a good man. He has done a lot of good work. I would vote for him. I feel the most important mamla [issue] is that the country has aman and shanti [peace]. Ayodhya? Nah, who knows when that will ever get resolved. That is not even important"

Next: 'Vajpayee has brought a sense of pride in being an Indian'

How We Will Vote

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