No doubt the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is for a casteless society. But the party's founder-general secretary, the late C.N. Annadurai, used his community name, Mudaliar, when the DMK entered the election arena in 1957. Annadurai, who successfully contested from the Kancheepuram constituency, which has a substantial Mudaliar population, gave his name as C.N. Annadurai Mudaliar. Though he was against it, he used his caste name perhaps to woo the majority community voters. However, in the 1962 general elections, he shed the tag. Unfortunately, he was defeated by Congress candidate S.V. Natesa Mudaliar.

High on symbolismKerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai is among the politicians in the State to have contested on the largest number of symbols. He was a member of the Indian National Congress when he fought his first election from the Pathanapuram Assembly Constituency in 1960. His symbol was "two bullocks with yoke on." He later co-founded the Kerala Congress and contested the next election under the "horse" symbol. He contested three other elections two to the Assembly and one to the Lok Sabha under the same symbol. The "coconut tree" was his symbol for the two subsequent elections that he fought after forming his party. After merging it with the Kerala Congress (M), he reverted to the "horse" symbol. In the early 1990s, he revived his party, and the "coconut tree" became his symbol again. The party had to accept the "bus" symbol in the next election. In this election, the "book" is his symbol.

What kids sayThese kids... they are irrepressible, a neighbour was heard commenting on April 20. It was the last day of campaigning for the first phase of polling in Kerala. Quite naturally, workers of the three main groups the LDF, the UDF and the BJP visited all houses to distribute voter slips. All the three teams behaved identically they left the neighbour's gate wide open, allowing free entry to stray dogs and cattle. Every time that happened, he had to send his 10-year-old to close the gate. The exasperated boy was heard commenting at one stage, "How can they transform the State if they cannot close a gate?"

Bitter adversariesHaving been unsuccessful in forming an anti-Left alliance in West Bengal, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are now bitter adversaries, much to the amusement of the Left parties. At election rallies, the leaders of the two parties are blaming each other for failing to reach a consensus on the "mahajot" (grand alliance) issue. Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee has told voters that even if they were unwilling to back her party, they should not, by any means, vote for the Congress candidate. Pranab Mukherjee, Pradesh Congress Committee president, has said the Congress was looking for a different kind of "mahajot" one involving the people in its battle against the Left Front. Their differences notwithstanding, leaders of both parties, confess in private that they had lost yet another opportunity to put up an effective challenge to the Left juggernaut.