Erode (East) bypoll | Disability not a deterrent for this candidate

Updated - February 20, 2023 12:13 pm IST

Published - February 17, 2023 06:42 pm IST - ERODE

M. Manivannan seeking votes in Erode on February 17, 2023

M. Manivannan seeking votes in Erode on February 17, 2023 | Photo Credit: M. Govarthan

A common sight during election campaigns, drum beats, impressive rallies and flags, blaring music and performance by artistes, all to seek the attention of voters, were absent. Yet, a person with disability and contesting as an independent candidate in the byelection to Erode (East) Assembly constituency, is reaching out to the electors on foot and is hopeful of winning their hearts.

M. Manivannan, 35, of Kaniyamoor Pudu Colony in Kallakurichi district, who has lost half of his left leg from the age of five, visits electors in person everyday with the support of crutches and seeks votes for his symbol ‘school bag’.

“I used to write petitions free of cost for the poor people at the taluk office and other government offices in Kallakurichi which gives me satisfaction,” he said. “For the last nine years, I was thinking of serving the people directly and the election is the only way,” he said.

Mr. Manivannan, who is unmarried, had completed B.A. English through correspondence in 2021 and depends solely on his parents’ daily income for his expenses. In his affidavit, he had declared movable assets as cash in hand of ₹10,000 and immovable assets in his mother’s name worth ₹7 lakh.

His campaign focuses on generating employment for youth and women, constructing tenements, providing regular drinking water supply and ensuring proper roads in the constituency. “I go alone and meet voters, who air their grievances. I listen to them first and assure them of fulfilling their demands,” he added.

The candidate stays along the road and outside closed shops during night hours and campaigns from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. covering four to five km every day. “My food and other expenses come to ₹700 every day and my parents support me,” he said and added that he had met close to 10,000 electors, so far.

“I have trust in the electors and am hopeful of getting a reasonable number of votes,” he said.

A total of 77 candidates, including 49 independent candidates, are in fray for the byelection scheduled for February 27.

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