For any political party, introducing its candidate in an approachable and congenial way is key to winning favour among voters, especially in a grassroot local election. In Bedadka panchayat in Kerala’s northernmost Kasaragod district, the youth wing of the CPI(M) has done exactly that through the medium of digital campaign posters.
Gone are the cliched posters of the smiling candidate with the party symbol. Here, the candidates of the CPI(M) in the upcoming local body polls appear in delightful digital posters in the very natural settings they live and work in.
And so, D Valsala, a candidate in the 5th ward of the panchayat, is photographed stitching a piece of cloth as she is employed with an apparel tailoring unit of Kudumbashree. Priya K, a candidate in the 2nd ward, is captured sitting with locals in a country-boat as her ward is located alongside a river.
And H Sankaran, a sculptor-artist fighting elections from the 10th ward, is clicked giving finishing touches to a sculpture as two children innocently look on.
“The idea was to portray the candidates as they are in their routine life…to show them as one among us,” said Shivan Choorikkode, a member of the local DYFI unit committee who led the efforts in creating the digital posters. DYFI is the youth wing of the CPI(M).
“Almost all candidates come from humble backgrounds. And so we wanted to project them as someone who’s approachable and who’s not different from the voters they want to represent. For example, when we think of Com. K Ramani who’s contesting for the Karadukka block panchayat, the first thing that comes to mind is Dinesh beedi because she’s been a beedi worker for the past 30-35 years. So, we decided to photograph her as she rolled the beedis at her workplace,” he added.
The posters, which excellently capture the everyday appeal and charm of rural Kerala, have expectedly gone viral with offers pouring in for Shivan and his team to work the same magic for CPM candidates in nearby local bodies.
“Even our political opponents are showering us with compliments. But to be frank, we are not professionals. Vipin, a fellow DYFI unit member, has a passion for photography so he volunteered to shoot the pictures. We borrowed the camera lens from another colleague. Adarsh, who has a day job, helped with editing in late-nights after he returned from work. So it was a team effort,” said Shivan.
With the digital posters getting wide acceptance, Shivan has asked the party leadership if the same can be printed for placards and banners. The panchayat committee of the party takes decisions on printing campaign material depending on funds.
“They have done a fabulous job,” said A Madhavan, the party’s area committee member who’s fighting re-election from the 11th ward of the Bedadka panchayat.
“At the local panchayat and area-committee level, the party has formed teams of young people who are adept at handling social media tools and using them to spread the message. In our panchayat too, this team of youngsters have been discussing ideas on designing campaign posters,” he added.
Bedadka is considered a stronghold of the CPI(M) and has been ruled by the party continuously since its inception. In the 2015 polls, the CPI(M)-led coalition won 16 of the 17 wards in the panchayat.
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