End of campaigning hits differently in Kerala with ‘Kalashakottu’

Contestants, party workers arrived on modified trucks and jeeps blaring party songs set to the tune of popular Malayalam songs

Congress candidate K.C. Venugopal with party workers in Allappuzha on 24 April
Congress candidate K.C. Venugopal with party workers in Allappuzha on 24 April

Ashlin Mathew

Elections are truly considered a jamboree in the southernmost state of Kerala. Unlike other states, the last day of campaigning ends on a different note in Kerala with contestants and members of all political coalitions coming to face off each other for the last two hours in every town’s main junction in a highly charged environment where there is high-spirited sloganeering and beating of drums. All of this ends at 6.00 pm, which is when campaigning has to end on the last day.  

This is referred to as ‘Kottikalasam’ or ‘Kalashakottu’ and the point of it is to outdo all your opponents at the city centre with whatever you can manage. Festoons, percussion music, loudspeaker announcements, and impromptu dancing and, of course, party flags mark Kalashakottu.

Everyone comes on modified trucks and jeeps blaring party songs sung to the tune of popular Malayalam songs, percussion teams and party workers perched atop cranes and cap tops. High visibility is the aim.

UDF workers celebrate Kalashakottu
UDF workers celebrate Kalashakottu
Ashlin Mathew/National Herald)
CPI(M) workers hoist party flags during the campaign
CPI(M) workers hoist party flags during the campaign
(photo: Ashlin Mathew/National Herald)

In most places, Kalashakottu passes off peacefully with a kind of bonhomie rarely seen these days in politics. There’s always a handful of police personnel diverting traffic and ensuring party workers do not come to blows. All political parties walk towards the designated centre in a show of strength.

Thiruvananthapuram’s Peroorkada junction witnesses the grandest Kalashakottu across the state. This time, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, was flanked by Oommen Chandy’s daughter Achu Oommen, atop an elevated crane until the high-decibel campaign reached a crescendo.

To ensure he wasn’t far behind, BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar, too, climbed a crane to invigorate his party workers. Left candidate Pannyan Raveendran came in an open vehicle to be part of the last-minute campaign.

In Thiruvananthapuram, there was a minor clash between CPI(M) and BJP workers.

Candidates stood on cranes in Ernakulam and Kasargod too. In Ernakulam, the state's ruling LDF began the show when they reached Palarivattom Junction with their percussion team before 4.00 pm. A two-wheeler procession of women reached the scene and was soon followed by their candidate K.J. Shine, who later climbed the excavator.

A little distance away at Town Hall, UDF candidate Hibi Eden arrived with a procession that had decorative umbrellas, Theyyam figures and a percussion team. At Madhava Pharmacy Junction, NDA candidate K.S. Radhakrishnan came with his party workers blaring music about PM Narendra Modi’s virtues.

In Allappuzha, the jamboree was held at Vattapally junction where all the candidates came with their party workers. Congress candidate K.C. Venugopal was lifted by his workers. While in Thiruvalla under Pathanamthitta constituency, where the Congress' Anto Anthony, LDF’s Thomas Issac and BJP’s Anil K. Antony are contesting, the workers of the three parties came together at SCS junction.

The end of the election campaigning hits a different note in Kerala. Amidst all this dance and frolic, come 6.00 pm sharp, the festivities end and everyone disperses.

UDF’s candidate KC Venugopal speaks to party workers
UDF workers participate in the rally
BJP workers celebrate during the rally
Supporters of political parties participate in the rally
UDF workers charged up on the last day of poll campaign

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