THAMPALACKADU: A crowd, numbering about 100, waited patiently at the Mattathippara junction, 40 kilometers from Kottayam, which was decorated with BJP flags and a few posters heralding a by-election in a panchayat ward. As a state car stopped near them at 12.30 pm, fists went up in the air and slogans were chanted.
Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kannannantham, along with his wife Sheela and BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, got out of it. They were greeted by senior leader PM Velayudhan while three women emerged from the crowd to receive them. A youngster offered a mangal aarti while the BJP candidate for by-election, put a shawl around the minister’s neck and touched his feet.
Life seemed to have a full circle for former Leftist Kannanthanam, who was inducted into the Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few days ago. The crowd moved into a nearby house, where a sumptuous lunch awaited them as more leaders, including former minister of state P C Thomas and BJP leader P S Sreedharan Pillai, joined them.
TV reporters approached Kannanthanam for sound bite. “I’m excited to be here. This is a place where I’ve good friends for long,” he said. Palackal Raveendran Nair, the house owner, invited Kannanthanam to have lunch inside the house, but he declined, saying “I’ll have it along with the public.”
HE sat in the pandal, flanked by his wife and Kummanam. It was time for a traditional vegetarian meal on a banana leaf on Sunday. The visual media reappeared, with a camera zooming on to his leaf and a reporter asking a question about the comment he made a couple of days ago on eating beef.
“This is Onam lunch. I always prefer vegetarian meal,” he said. As the reporter persisted with the topic, the minister, as if to clear the air, said, “Everyone has the right to eat anything he wants and wear what he wants.”
As people requested him to pose for pictures, Kannanthanam obliged but made sure the candidate was in the frame. “Smile well, we can use it in the hoardings once you get elected,” he advised her.
Kannanthanam then took rest inside the house where a few leaders greeted him.
Before making a visit to his sister’s house nearby, he dashed off to the family meet of an NSS Karayogam at a neighbouring school. After a brief address, he left for a road show at Kanjirappally town.