Communist flag, roadshows and public exuberance baffle western tourists in Kerala

Grace and Jared, a couple from New York city, expressed curiosity about how communism has flourished in Kerala.
Martin and Liliyan, tourist couple from England, in Fort Kochi.
Martin and Liliyan, tourist couple from England, in Fort Kochi. Express

KOCHI: General elections in India are often described as a ‘carnival of democracy’. And foreign tourists arriving during the poll season struggle to fathom the spectacle.

In Kerala, several western travellers seem to be amazed by the fact that communism still thrives here.

English couple Liliyan and Martin have been travelling across Kerala, visiting tourist destinations such as Munnar, Alappuzha, and Fort Kochi. “We have been observing how the citizens of the largest democracy in the world celebrate the election. It’s just fantastic,” they exclaimed.

However, what left them bemused were the “red flags with the hammer and sickle”. “We didn’t know communism still existed here,” said Liliyan as the couple ambled along the Fort Kochi beach.

“I wonder why Indian people would want their land to be like Russia or China.”

Martin added that the couple were in Chennai two weeks ago, and recalled seeing DMK and NDA posters. “But, yes, we were surprised to communist flags in Kerala,” he smiled.

The couple recalled seeing an election rally in Alappuzha a few days ago. “It was a massive roadshow. There was loud music, and hundreds of people were dancing,” said Martin, adding that election campaigns were relatively “quiet” in England.

Grace and Jared, a couple from New York city, also expressed curiosity about how communism flourished in Kerala.

“While leaving for India, some friends told us that Kerala was a state ruled by the communists, like Soviet Russia. On reaching here, we could see the red flags,” said Jared.

The couple added they were fascinated by the campaigning going on. “The walls and the streets are packed with flags, posters and hoardings of different political parties. The diversity is amazing. It’s great that the people here believe in a variety of political ideologies,” said Jared.

“The electoral system in the US is totally different. We have a presidential style. Here, there seems to be a higher level of people’s involvement in the election process.”

Grace said she was happy to see a woman candidate [LDF’s K J Shine] in the fray. “It’s good to know women are active in Indian politics. It is a healthy sign,” she added.

French tourist Celie, who is touring India with her children, said she was glad on choosing her trip amid the elections here. “Exploring countries can help us learn about different cultures and traditions. Now we have got a chance to understand Indian politics and its intricacies better,” she said.

Several travellers lauded the public exuberance during the election season. “We have been in India for three weeks. We saw roadshows and meetings in Chennai, Pondicherry and Munnar,” said German tourist Kepath, who is travelling with his wife Claudia.

“The people’s enthusiasm is just great. It is a good thing that the election is such a big thing here. I appreciate that you celebrate democracy.”

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