When election approaches, political parties and their candidates try to reach out to the maximum number of people. And the voters, on their part, cash in on the situation by getting the candidates to do whatever they want.
This is the time candidates are easily accessible to the public. Even usually reticent politicians comply with voters’ demands during electioneering – from selfies to handshakes to hugs.
A busy politician like P.K. Kunhalikutty posing for a picture, holding a big seer fish, is a scene possible only during electioneering. “Election is the time for real interface between the people and their potential representatives,” said Youth Congress leader at Malappuram Shoukath Uppoodan.
Selfies are the most in demand. Almost all candidates click at least two dozen selfies a day during their campaign. “It’s not an exaggeration. People love selfies. And we oblige,” said Iqbal Erambath, media coordinator of E.T. Mohammed Basheer in Ponnani.
Most candidates seeking votes in markets are made to pose with either a fish or a bunch of plantains for photos. “Evidently it’s keepsake for the people, and mileage for the candidate,” said Mr. Shoukath.
Candidates display a special affection for children. The little ones are given handshakes, hugged, kissed and coddled. Some candidates dole out candies to them. The whole idea is to touch parents’ hearts through children.
Candidates rarely deny the beverages offered courteously by people, be it a glass of sherbet, lime juice, watermelon juice, or tea. Some offer the candidates hats to wear in the sun; some others dish out a traditional welcome to their prospective candidates, with paddy and flowers. BJP candidates seem to get more floral crowns than their opponents.
Candidates mostly comply with whatever they are asked to do. Ask them to kick a football for you, they will. Ask them to give the birds some water, they will. “This is the time to make them do what we want,” said a girl from Gems College, Ramapuram, where they got Mr. Kunhalikutty and V.P. Sanu, LDF’s candidate in Malappuram, to pose for selfies.
Candidates too respond positively. Mr. Kunhalikutty was seen offering ‘kanikonna’ flowers to the people during Vishu. “It’s a give-and-take affair,” said Mr. Erambath.