THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘KottikKalasam’, billed as the sheer spirit of democracy, in which several thousand workers belonging to various political parties come face to face without causing any major untoward incidents in every constituencyin the state, showcases the sheer excitement and vibrancy of the democracy at work in Kerala, not seen in other states in the country.
However, the rise in sporadic incidents of violence being reported in the road shows of political parties each year and the money spent on carnival-like events by political parties have led to eyebrows being raised. First of all, the Kottikkalasam has a history of only two decades in which the workers of the main political fronts would come face-to-face in a highly charged campaign atmosphere shouting slogans to the accompaniment of drums and percussion ensemble.
Sebastian Paul, the former Ernakulam MP, who made it to Lok Sabha by winning the 1997 bypoll necessitated by sitting MP Xavier Arakkal’s demise, told Express, ‘When I made my electoral debut in 1997, there were no ‘kottikkalasams’. The party workers used to come to the nearest junction where the candidate will deliver his speech and the workers will disperse afterwards.
But now it has turned into the grand finale of the campaigns of the political parties. I have not seen this type of campaign culmination finale anywhere in the country except Kerala,” he said. The mushrooming of TV news channels is believed to have played a pivotal role in the growth in the size of the carnival-like kottikkalasams, he said.
K Jayakumar, former Chief Secretary and poet-lyricist, too said the history of Kottikkalasam goes back only 15-20 years. “I was in Chennai when Tamil Nadu went to elections this time and I never saw any such grand finale there. The final day was not a noisy affair and the state went to the polls in a no-frills manner.
K C Umesh Babu, poet and political activist, said this is part of carnival culture and neo feudalism. Unlike in the past, this has been organised in a manner to show the strength of each political party, where obscenely high amount of money is spent by each front to organise these kind of shows in every nook and corner. The time has come to ban this kind of political show-offs as violence has become a part and parcel of these kinds of shows, he said.
Interestingly, the political leaders and observers whom ‘Express’ spoke to were unanimous in their view that these kind of shows are somewhat a failure in swinging the mood of voters in favour of the political party which puts up the best performance. “It is rather inane to believe these kind of shows will influence the voters. This is only a festivity and it has now become a tradition in Kerala. Nothing more,” they said.
coming of age
‘Kottikkalasam’ has a history of only two decades
The grand finale of campaigning unique to Kerala
Mushrooming of TV channels provided a fillip
Obscenely huge sums spent by parties on organising them
From peaceful trial of strength, they have turned into violent faceoff