“Graffiti painted overnight after the announcement of my candidature helped me win the Lok Sabha elections for the first time from Palakkad in 1980,” recalls veteran Congress leader V.S. Vijayaraghavan, who represented the Palakkad Parliamentary constituency thrice. Mr. Vijayaraghavan said when his name was announced by the Congress in New Delhi, he was at the Palani Subramania Swamy Temple in Tamil Nadu with his wife. People came to know about it on radio. “On my way back to Palakkad the next evening, I was surprised to see graffiti put up all the way from Chittur Assembly constituency to Erimayur, my village in Alathur.”
“When I reached home, I got a telephone call from the then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran who said that he had been trying to trace me. Before I knew about my candidature, party workers had completed the graffiti overnight throughout the constituency. That was the spirit of Congress workers then.”
He said another major factor for his victory was the campaign by Indira Gandhi. She came to Palakkad Fort Maidan at 6.30 a.m. on a cold December day by helicopter. “I was worried whether there would be people to listen to her in the early hours. But, thousands of people had assembled at the Fort Maidan,” says Mr. Vijayaraghavan.
He said the campaign tour was in a jeep given to him by a relative. There were no colour posters in 1980; only a black and white photo of Indira Gandhi, the ‘hand’ symbol and a stamp-size photo of the candidate.
Mr. Vijayaraghavan says what he vividly remembers is his first election to the Assembly that he lost to Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad in 1977. “Surprisingly, EMS won by a small margin only.” In fact, EMS congratulated him and asked his party workers to provide him safe passage, Mr. Vijayaraghavan says.