“No politics; and, no controversies either, please—let's talk about development issues.” This seems to be the campaign mantra of M.J. Jacob, Left Democratic Front candidate in Piravom.

‘Jacob Chettan' to the locals and ‘MJ' to LDF leaders, Mr. Jacob, aged 67, does not talk politics on his campaign trail. He also scrupulously stays clear of all currently controversial issues. A gentleman politician that he is, he casts aspersions against none, let alone his rival candidate Anoop Jacob. It is up to the senior CPI(M) and LDF leaders to trade charges on all the hot topics that have come up during the electioneering.

Instead, Mr. Jacob speaks about development—about roads, bridges, drinking water and, of course, the proposed electronics park at Amballoor for which he says he had taken a lot of effort.

On Monday, on his ‘candidate's tour,' he devoted his whole day to the Elanji panchayat. He spoke at more than a dozen places in this agrarian panchayat.

Clad in his trade mark ‘white and white,' he speaks softly, in simple Malayalam spiced with slang usages.

It is quite clear that he is not an orator, not even a speaker by politicians' standards. He never raises his voice, at times it is monotonous—hardly able to rouse passions in a crowd. But, he manages to communicate; his words are so simple and earthy that they do not miss the target.

The modest crowd at the street corner does not seem to expect a bombastic speech from him. All of those who gathered to hear the candidate's speech have apparently heard him and seen him several times before. For, he is one of them. “I live close by, just 2 km from here,” he begins. “I am the son of the Kuttappilliyil Vaidyan. I was the president of the Thirumaradi panchayat. When I was the president, Thirumaradi won the best panchayat award twice.” Thus introducing himself and establishing his credentials, he relates himself to the past and present of several panchayats in the constituency.

Then he speaks about the schemes he had initiated in Piravom when he was an MLA. But, mind you, there are no boasting, no tall claims. Like an elderly, wise, mature person, he presents the facts and figures in a sober tone. Then he talks about the need for more roads and the completion of several existing projects. He is keen to find a solution to the drinking water scarcity in the constituency. He hardly smiles while speaking, cracks no jokes.

Mr. Jacob's words and body language give the impression of a caring-uncle-next-door.

Age and experience have mellowed him, even a little sedate.

His promise to the electorate is this: “I will never let you down, I will never bring shame to you, I will never let you regret for having chosen me as your MLA.”

He repeats this line everywhere he speaks and his simple manners make the people believe that he means it.

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