Anita Pratap, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate in the Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency, has reasons to believe that she was following an age-old custom rather than canvassing votes in a unique way on the premises of a famous pilgrim centre.
Devotees who thronged the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom at Vallarpadam, an island off Kochi, felt nothing unusual on Sunday morning when the candidate and her close relatives started sweeping the premises of the church, built in 1524 by the Portuguese, as it was a part of traditional rituals there. However, some television journalists chasing the famous journalist-writer, who shot into fame through her interview with LTTE leader Prabhakaran, found it amusing as the AAP candidate was using the party symbol, broom, to clean up the church premises and that too in the presence of several devotees who were present there for the Sunday mass.
The visuals soon started playing on television channels. They termed it as a unique way of canvassing votes. Ms Pratap told The Hindu that it was a distortion of facts by the television journalists as visiting the church and sweeping its premises using a broom was part of a ritual which her family had practised like other devotees.
“My mom used to bring me here when I was a child and made me sweep the premises using a broom. There was no road access to the island then and we used to come by boats operated by the Kerala State Water Transport Corporation. I tried to explain this to TV journalists but they paid no heed,’’ she said.
According to her, brooms of the Vallarpadam church are older than the AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. “In fact, they are older than me and most of our generation,’’ she said.