Shetty tells workers voting for CPI(M) can make a difference

The beats of the chande — loud, energetic and frenetic — set the tone for the procession that walks through Moodbidri like a marriage party. Amid the dour faces and red flags, Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency K. Yadava Shetty frantically moves around on the fringes of the procession, much like an excited groom, greeting passers-by with a beaming smile and submissive joined hands.

Even in the sapping heat of the day, there was no shortage of energy from Mr. Shetty in his hometown. While he resides in Puttige, on the outskirts, his wife, who works in the Forest Department, is also known among the residents. Besides, his candidature represents the logical step for a man many had seen leading similar groups into protest at the town market.

Starting from Thodar on the outskirts of the city, the procession made its way through Moodbidri, traversing its narrow gullies and crowded markets and made pit stops at cashew factories. Though the group maintains a brisk pace, traffic piles up behind.

Mr. Shetty who flits from one end of the road to the other, routinely rushes towards groups of people to lend a personal touch in the procession: a quick handshake, mumbled words, and a broad smile that mirrors his photograph in the pamphlets distributed.

But the broad smiles from those receiving the handshakes display more of sympathy rather than commitment. “They are a good party. They protest for everything (laughs), and they fight for the poor, for beedi workers… But, they won’t get the majority, and people may think it is a wasted vote,” said Srikant Rao, who runs a knick-knack shop.

Similarly, H.M. Hanif, a real-estate broker, who gave Mr. Shetty a broad embrace, sings paeans of the candidate before saying a ‘but’. “People vote for big parties. In all the talk of waves, parties like the CPI(M) get washed away.”

Vinu Kini, a hotel worker, who along with construction workers and autorickshaw drivers got special focus from the candidate, echoed similar thoughts. Mr. Shetty remains unfazed, and on the contrary, exudes confidence. “There is sympathy for us, and there is pride about our party work. We are educating ‘workers’ (labourer class that forms a major voter demographic) that voting for us makes a difference,” he said.

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