Friday, June 01, 2007


People in the hill town will be awake throughout the night tomorrow, sending messages and making phone calls to help their neighbourhood boy become the singing hero of the nation.
Committees have been formed and an action plan drawn up to vote for Prashant Tamang — a 24-year-old from Toongsoong here — as he climbs up the ladder at Indian Idol, one of the biggest singing talent-hunt contests in the country. After beating around 25,000 hopefuls from across the country, Tamang, a constable with Calcutta Police, now has only 27 opponents to deal with to become the next Indian Idol.
In this round, Tamang’s fate depends on the number of votes he gets through SMS texts and calls from landlines and the residents here have things planned out to keep the small town dream alive.

“Voting lines for the contest will remain open from 9 pm tomorrow to 9 am the next day (June 1-2) and we will ensure that we are all there to vote for him throughout the night. One person can vote unlimited number of times,” said Tenzing Khambachey, the commissioner of Ward 14, who is heading the informal committee. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our boy and we cannot let him down. We have even sent people to places like Tezpur in Assam to mobilise support for Prashant. Relatives, friends and residents of Darjeeling staying across the country are calling us to express support.”
Back at Tamang’s home in Toongsoong, hundreds of well-wishers are trooping in everyday to wish his family luck. “I thank the police department for making him the lead singer at the Calcutta Police Orchestra, which gave him an opportunity to test his skill along with the best from the country,” said Tamang’s mother Rupa.
His father, Madan Tamang, had died while in service with the Calcutta Police and Tamang, who had then just finished his Class X exams from St Robert’s School, Darjeeling, had to join the force in 2000 for a living. “He never told us that he was trying his luck at the Indian Idol. We learnt about it only after he was selected. I would ask Prashant to take proper training to hone his skills,” said Rupa.
Volunteers have plastered the town with festoons, urging people to vote for their friend. In order to ensure that Tamang does not miss out a single vote from the region, pamphlets have been distributed across the hills, urging residents to send their votes through landline phones if they did not have mobiles. Telephone booth-owners have also been requested to keep their shops open as late as possible tomorrow.
“Many may not know how to vote and some may not be able to send SMS texts. We are asking social organisations to teach everyone how to send their votes correctly, either through landlines or cellphones,” said Khambachey.
Darjeeling municipality commissioners, hotel owners and businessmen are also coming forward to sponsor publicity material for Tamang. “We are also grateful to the Marwari community for their help,” the commissioner said.