The sayings old habits die hard or seldom die are time-tested adages and would continue to remain in vogue even after hundreds of years. Nowhere it is visible more than in Kerala where election fever to local bodies is catching up fast. Though the schedule is yet to be announced, candidates have been finalised and high-pitched campaign is on all over the State.
The campaign trend shows that people, especially those claiming to be progressive and forward looking are still entangled in age old dogmas and beliefs. A tour through Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, regions known for their high percentage of Muslim population prove that even CPI(M), the self-styled harbingers of social justice and secularism are not behind the reactionaries and conservatives.
All political parties have fielded women candidates from constituencies reserved for women. The Muslim League and other Islamist parties are known for their orthodox approach while campaigning for women candidates. The pictures of women candidates are missing from the flex boards while the larger than life photographs of their spouses greet the voters.
The CPI(M) which swears by secularism, socialism, gender equality and all other progressive ideas have taken a lead in this segment too by blacking out pictures of women candidates from flex boards and other advertisements.
The men comrades plead with the voters soliciting votes for their better halves. Interestingly all these candidates have been allocated the hammer-sickle-star symbol, the official symbol of the CPI(M).
“It is their way of telling the electorate that though they are contesting the election as CPI(M) candidates, they follow orthodox rules of the Islam,” said Ali Akbar, noted movie maker. He said that the orthodox Islamists are against displaying the photographs of women. “This is yet another sign that the Jamaat-e Islami have established its hold in the CPI(M). This does not augur well for the Muslim community in the State in the long run,” said Akbar.
“Vote for Amina Hassankunju”, requests Hassankunju, husband of Amina, the Muslim League candidate. The poster has the photographs of Hassankunju and the Muslim League supremo while Amina is missing.
Shamsuddeen, husband of CPI(M) candidate Jamseela in a municipal ward in Manjeri pleads with the electorate to vote for his wife : “We need someone from amongst us,” says Shamsuddeen. Jamseela’s picture is absent.
Bavukka Koduvalli, husband of P K Sulfath, the Muslim League candidate from Ennappadam has published a poster with his own latest picture wearing designer goggles, thick bracelet and heavy necklace made of high purity gold! Request is same; “Please vote for my wife”
On January 26 this year, Kerala saw a human wall across the length of the State to announce Renaissance in the State. Some Renaissance!