The main traffic junction at Peroorkada in Thiruvananthapuram city witnessed a riot of colours and an auditory experience like no other as thousands of party workers flowed in to demonstrate their strength as part of the famed ‘kalashakottu’ in the final few hours of the Lok Sabha campaign in Kerala. After a day of silent campaign on Monday, all 20 parliamentary constituencies in Kerala go to the ballot on April 23 (Tuesday).
As early as 2.30 pm on Sunday afternoon, workers and supporters of the state’s three main coalitions – CPM-led LDF, Congress-led UDF and the BJP-led NDA – occupied prime positions at the otherwise busy traffic junction. In Thiruvananthapuram, incumbent Congress MP and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor faces a stiff three-cornered challenge from C Divakaran of the CPI and former Mizoram governor Kummanam Rajasekharan of the BJP. In 2014, Tharoor had eked out a narrow win over his nearest BJP rival, O Rajagopal.
At Peroorkada, jeeps and small pick-up trucks, which were used throughout the election campaign, came in, fitted with large sound speakers blaring campaign songs and slogans in support of their respective candidates. The whole point of the ‘kalashakottu’ is to outdo your rivals with all the innovative machinery you can pluck out of your arsenal and display it on the streets. So there were groups of women, wearing t-shirts over sarees emblazoned with pictures of Tharoor matching dance steps with the beats of the chenda, a local percussion instrument. There were also ecstatic workers of the BJP forming tall human pyramids. There were supporters who had climbed the tallest buildings in the traffic junction, waving their flags wildly hoping to get the attention of the television media. Click here for more election news
The Left workers stuck to their traditional style of campaigning, by waving giant flags of their candidate as well as that of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, who’s a bit of a household name for Communist leaders in the state. The locals in the area stood and admired the revelry as party workers did their best to impress them. A large contingent of the police and CISF force stood in every corner, guarding every move, waiting for the slightest hint of violence.
But even as the ‘kalashakottu’ progressed through the afternoon with workers not showing the slightest hint of tiredness, the entire road, coursing through the neighborhood, remained jammed with traffic. Buses and cars were diverted by the police through another way even as a lot of people stood helpless at the bus stop, waiting for conveyance to take them home. Police however made sure ambulances and other essential medical emergencies were allowed to pass through the area.
By 6 pm, the display of political strength reached a crescendo before the security forces blew whistles to signal the end of a campaign that had lasted almost six weeks.
At other places across the state, sporadic violence was reported. If CPM and SDPI workers clashed in Ernakulam, Left and BJP workers faced tense moments in Kanjirapally in Pathanamthitta constituency. In Vadakara in Malabar region, a hotbed of political violence, curfew orders have been imposed ahead of polling.