A blast from the past Kerala elections

A 1957 election campaign graffiti stands loud and clear at Edappally market in Kochi.— Photo: H. Vibhu

A 1957 election campaign graffiti stands loud and clear at Edappally market in Kochi.— Photo: H. Vibhu  


Cast your votes in the Kaalappetti (box with the picture of a bull), appeals the graffiti, sprawled across the outer wall of the building that once housed the local office of the Indian National Congress, right in the thick of Edappally market.

The lines are clear and look well preserved as if it was yesterday but they go back to Kerala’s first democratic elections under the Indian Union in 1957. The graffiti had been part of the election campaign for A.V. Joseph, contesting from what was then the Kanayannur Assembly constituency, and A. M. Thomas, contesting in the Ernakulam parliamentary constituency for the INC.

These names have long faded out of everyday memory even for the most ardent fans of democracy or the INC. But occasions such as elections are when the memories come flooding back, says Mathachan Alumkal, a local Congress worker manning the campaign office for the party candidate in next month’s elections to local bodies.

The late Joseph’s son Kurien Ambattu recalls the elections that brought the first Communist Party government to power in Kerala. A.C. Jose, veteran Congressman and a native of Edappally, remembers that Joseph was defeated by T.K. Ramakrishnan of the undivided Communist Party.

But Thomas won the Ernakulam parliamentary seat and went on to become a minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. He defeated M.M. Abdul Khader, an Independent backed by the Communist Party.

P.V. Thomas from Edappally remembers the heat and dust of the 1957 elections and even has a vague memory from his childhood of his seniors creating the election graffiti.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2020 9:55:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/a-blast-from-the-past/article7816564.ece

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