Dharmadom is a tranquil little village, surrounded by rivers and water bodies. The political temperature in this hamlet is on the rise thanks to the man representing the constituency in the Kerala Assembly elections. Dharmadom constituency was formed after the delimitation process in 2011. Since then, it has successfully sent CPI(M) candidates to the state Assembly.
In 2016, the constituency first caught everyone’s eye after Pinarayi Vijayan decided to contest the elections after a gap of 20 years. Five years down the line, Dharmadom is in focus for being the home constituency of sitting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
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For the people of this village, the chief minister is still their Vijayettan (Vijayan, the elder brother). They throng his campaign venues, carefully listening to his words and cheering to his punch dialogues. Vijayan leaves his home in Pinarayi locality around 10 in the morning. Since the election campaigns have begun, the chief minister is too busy trying to reach the nook and corner of his village.
Hundreds of people gather at each location where Vijayan would give a speech not exceeding 20-30 minutes. He mostly focuses on the achievements of his government.
Chandran, 65, is a retired professor and a native of Dharmadom and he has lived here all his life. According to people like him, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by Pinarayi Vijayan is all set to return to power in this election. He says the way the government has handled the crisis will certainly reflect in the elections.
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As the CM travelled from one point to another, we met a CPI(M) activist who would easily catch anybody’s attention. The 28-year-old Lineesh, a daily wage worker, has decided to transform himself into campaign material. He comes to all venues of the chief minister, wearing a red dhoti with the party symbol on it. His white shirt carries a photo of a smiling Pinarayi Vijayan.
What’s more attractive is his hairstyle. He has coloured his hair red and trimmed the sides with the iconic hammer-sickle symbol and a marking of LDF.
Speaking to India Today, Lineesh said he loves his party like anything, and he does this during most of the elections. It took him about half a day and Rs 800 to transform his hairstyle. He firmly believes that Vijayan would return as the chief minister because of the welfare activities. He also vehemently refused to even respond to the questions regarding the BJP.
Throughout the journey in Dharmadom, the government’s welfare pension and free food kits are a hot topic. While the Opposition alleges it is eyewash by the government, there are many people who do not agree with that.
At the final venue of Vijayan’s campaign in Dharmadom, we met Sujatha, a 40-year-old woman who runs an autorickshaw for a living.
She was among the first woman autorickshaw drivers in the region. In a male-dominated occupation, she had received good support from the family and others. During the lockdown when the families like hers were deprived of any source of income, it was the free food kit that came to their rescue. “During the lockdown, none of us in the family could go to work, there was no income, we sustained mostly on the free food kits provided by the government,” she said, leaning towards her autorickshaw painted in red with LDF markings.
There is a historic reason behind Dharmadom and Pinarayi being a red bastion. In 1939, when a group of leaders, including AK Gopalan and EMS Namboodiripad, decided to leave Congress (Socialist) for a new party, they chose a locality named Parapram in Kannur district to convene their first meeting. Thus, Parapram became the birthplace of the Communist Party in Kerala.
In 2011, KK Narayanan of the CPI(M) won against Congress candidate Mambaram Divakaran with a comfortable margin of 15,162 votes. In 2016, when Vijayan contested he increased the margin to a mammoth 37,905 against the same candidates from the INC.
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