An old man, clad in a stained white shirt and veshti, struggles up the stage to clasp the hand of Communist Party of India candidate G. Palanichamy at a public meeting here. Before he leaves, he puts a crisp hundred-rupee note in the candidate’s hand.
The image of the man, presumably a labourer, contributing what is possibly his day’s wage to the campaign reflects a recurrent reality in these parts. Even as DMK and AIADMK cadre seem upset with not getting enough money to campaign for their party candidates, CPI loyalists are walking the extra mile to make a fight out of it.
“While candidates of the Dravidian parties give money for votes, here, the poor give us anything between Rs. 10 to Rs. 1,000 to help our campaign,” says Veerasenan, CPI’s Tiruvarur district secretary. At every Left party campaign meeting, such contributions come from their sympathisers, primarily the landless poor, labourers and Dalits who throng the venue from across Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts.
Women wage labourers are the Left’s barefoot soldiers, competing with other parties’ motorcades and cycle rallies. As the polling day nears, these women brave the scorching sun and forgo their wages while canvassing for votes. They come to public meetings on their own, taking any mode of transport without asking the party to ferry them.
Vigil against cash
In the Communist strongholds such as Thiruthuraipoondi, Keezhvelur, parts of Vedaranyam and Tiruvarur, people have started keeping vigil to prevent the infusion of money by other parties. Says Ambikapathi, a Vedaranyam-based journalist: “Here, the candidates may not even risk sending cash for the fear that villagers will not just seize the money, but also tie up those carrying it and alert the police.” The villagers kept such midnight vigils even during the 2011 Assembly elections.