Congress's Benny Behanan stands his ground in Chalakudy

Children, elderly people, and women waited in front of their houses to wave at ‘Benny chettan’, who is also their sitting MP.
UDF Convenor and Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency candidate Benny Behanan
UDF Convenor and Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency candidate Benny Behanan (Facebook photo)

KOCHI: Benny Behanan and the Congress activists looked weary after Saturday’s massive election meeting at Peraman ground in Eriyad, a town near Kodungallur. After all, it was a high-profile event featuring star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi, who addressed a large gathering as part of campaigning for the UDF candidate in Chalakudy.

“The time has come for each one of you to awaken. As the American civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King once said, ‘The time has come to ask yourself what will happen to you if you don’t stand up for what is right today,’” Priyanka told the crowd which included women and children.

As Priyanka left for her next stop, Pathanamthitta, party workers and Behenan proceeded to Mambra, a village nearly 30km from Eriyad. Against the backdrop of the parody song, ‘Benny Behanan nethavu, Chalakkudyude jayathaavu’, hundreds of UDF supporters braved the scorching sun as the campaign winded its way to Annamanada and Koozhur.

Behanan played his part in every reception and meeting. Hundreds of people gathered to receive him with tricolour shawls and political slogans, while many hugged and greeted him. Children, elderly people, and women waited in front of their houses to wave at ‘Benny chettan’, who is also their sitting MP. “The response of the people gives me confidence.

It is not just about party supporters who join my rallies, what makes me more happy are the kids, mothers and people who wait to meet and greet me. The response has been very positive,” Behanan told TNIE. He criticised state and central government policies in his speeches. “What is happening in the state? There is high inflation.

Elderly people are not receiving their social security pensions. Government employees are not getting their salaries. After seven months, the government has started distributing pensions for two months. Your vote should be an answer to the policies of both governments,” he said at a reception in West Koratty. The presence of Twenty20 party candidate Charlie Paul has been unsettling. But, Behanan refuses to be unduly worried.

“Twenty20 is a local party. In a general election, the issues that we discuss and are concerned about are different. We need to look at it from a wider perspective. Voters are also aware of it and will vote accordingly,” he stresses.

The day’s campaign ends around midnight. “We start again early in the morning. This has become our routine, and neither Benny sir nor the party workers affected by the schedule. We are all enthusiastic,” says Shobana, a Congress activist.

Behanan and his supporters have been campaigning for than a month. Chalakudy is a UDF stronghold, but they are not taking anything for granted.

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