In the heart of Maharashtra, where tradition and politics intertwine like the threads of a vibrant tapestry, the Kadam family from Kolhapur city in South Maharashtra has blown its trumpet for generations. For Shivaji Kadam and his son Shubham, the trumpet isn’t just an instrument; it’s their legacy, their livelihood. With elections on the horizon, the trumpet’s call heralds not just joyous occasions but also the promise of a profitable season.

As the election season is here, 23-year-old Shubham is preparing for the political hustle and bustle. But, a twist of fate might throw a spanner in the works, threatening to silence their trumpet.

Symbolic Shift 

In February, after a split in Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Election Commission of India recognised the Ajit Pawar faction as the official NCP and allocated “clock” symbol. Sharad Pawar’s faction got a new symbol — a ‘man blowing tura (trumpet) from the EC.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Sharad Pawar faction to use ‘NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar’ as its name and the trumpet symbol for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the country. SC also asked the EC not to allot this symbol to any other party or an independent candidate.

Melody for all

However, this new symbol has inadvertently stirred up a fascinating dilemma in Maharashtra, where the tradition of blowing trumpets at public functions runs deep.

Shivaji, pondering the implications, muses, “What will become of us now?” He fears that the ruling BJP and its allies might avoid their services, fearing the promotion of a rival symbol. But for Shivaji and his ilk, politics is a melody they play for all; all these years they’ve trumpeted at rallies for every party, indifferent to the political tune. “I hope parties continue to invite us for rallies,” he says.

During weddings, these musicians typically earn between ₹1,500 and 2,000 for their welcoming tunes. But come election season, their melodies fetch a higher price, soaring to over ₹3,000 per rally. Hundreds of trumpet blowers today find themselves at a crossroads as they face an uncertain future due to a symbolic shift in politics.