Election time is sparring time

Tempers run high and terms of engagement sharpen, especially for activists of rival political formations, as polling day approaches.

True to type, an episode involving workers of the ruling UDF and the Opposition LDF in the Vadakara and Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituencies appeared to head for flash point at the Kozhikode Collectorate the other day.

The media were in full attendance at the Collectorate as candidates of the UDF and LDF were expected to file their nomination papers. Opposition alliance candidates A.N. Shamseer from Vadakara and A. Vijayaraghavan from Kozhikode were to file their papers before the Collector and Returning Officer at 11 a.m.

However, even as the duo and their entourage entered the Collectorate complex accompanied by much fanfare, Vadakara's UDF incumbent Mullappally Ramachandran beat them to it and entered the Collector's office to file his nomination papers. Mr.Ramachandran and his aides seemed to take their sweet time inside as the LDF men cooled their heels outside.

Mr. Ramachandran's aides were seen scurrying in and out of the office several times as the restive LDF supporters waited in visible impatience.

Half-an-hour later, after seeing off a beaming Mr. Ramachandran to the ceaseless flash of media cameras, the LDF candidates went in to file their papers.

Mr. Shamseer's supporters were heard saying that the reply for this ‘slight’ will be given to the UDF on election day.

Governor’s gestures

There is no end to surprises in the political world. Governor Sheila Dikshit threw up a few last week when she decided to travel by train from the State capital to Kochi to attend a few functions and walked in unannounced, very much like any other ‘aam aadmi’, into the SMSM Institute, the outlet of the Handicrafts Development Corporation of Kerala, adjacent to the State secretariat, to buy a few artifacts.

Ms. Dikshit, who moved into the Kerala Raj Bhavan after her party caved in under the Aam Aadmi Party assault in the recent Delhi Assembly polls, was absolutely at ease as she gave up the Governor’s car and motorcade and got into an Amritsar-bound train to reach Kochi on March 19, covering 200-odd kilometres, in just four hours, avoiding the normal hassles of VIP road travel which invariably puts police personnel en route to untold hardship.

She was all smiles as she emerged from the railway station to be received and taken around by the local Revenue officials and organisers of the scheduled functions.

From the Raj Bhavan to Kochi, there were many pleasantly surprised faces that day and one of them was heard wondering, in strict confidence, if the Ministers whose practice it is to take flights from the State capital to Kochi and Kozhikode to attend functions and to be in their homes in north and central Kerala would follow suit.

At the SMSM Institute, the Governor picked up an ornamental jewel box and two intricately carved lotus-shaped lamps.

She did not also forget to meet the shop floor assistants and interact with them before she left the outlet, liberal in her praise for the artifacts on display at the shop.

With inputs from Krishnadas Rajagopal (Kozhikode), and

S. Anil Radhakrishnan (Thiruvananthapuram)