News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » News » High Drama As Campaign Ends In TVM!

High Drama As Campaign Ends In TVM!

Last updated on: April 25, 2024 11:39 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

As the curtain falls on the campaign for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday, April 24, a ringside view of the closing ceremonies.

IMAGE: A gallery of Shashi Tharoor cutouts on the last day of campaigning. All Photographs and Videos: Archana Masih, Seema Pant, Mukta Pant, Nikhil Lakshman for

Cannons to the right of us fire confetti on the crowds at frequent intervals.

Congress and BJP drummers beat a frenetic tattoo.

Both BJP and Congress supporters wave giant party flags (how their arms must ache!)

Giant balloons with Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor's face bob up in the sky above the BJP stage.

In contrast to the BJP and Congress stages which reek expense, the CPI section is at the edge of the proceeding, seemingly unsure about its role in the elaborate tableau of political drama that ends electioneering in Thiruvanathapuram roughly 38 hours before the first ballot is cast in the constituency on Friday morning.

Shashi Tharoor is the first to take to the skies, high aloft in a crane. Alongside him is Achu Oomen, daughter of the late beloved Congress politician Ooomen Chandy.

In his vehicle, Pannyan Raveendran, the CPI nominee, has a perplexing red turban affixed on his hair, which has not been trimmed in nearly 49 years, looking somewhat like a bewildered bridegroom off to a wedding.

Until Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the BJP candidate, shows up, perhaps anxious not to let Dr Tharoor steal the thunder with his aerial show, a bobble head of BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar shows up, waving puppet-like at the spectators.

Soon enough, both Tharoor and Chandrasekhar are on adjoining cranes high above the assembled crowd of parties faithful, cops local and central, spectators eager to savour the drama, waving to the folks below with the practiced enthusiasm that politicians the world across seem to possess at all times.

For visitors to the city from elsewhere in the Republic, the electioneering-is-everywhere phenom in TVM -- the giant billboards with the candidates' visage popping up on TVM throughfares, smaller versions of the nominees and their spiel lining up even cul de sacs -- seem startling.

As Anju Chandrasekhar, the BJP candidate's wife, points out earlier on Wednesday afternoon, as a caravan broadcasting her husband's message goes by, the election campaign in Bengaluru, where the couple and their children live, is mostly in mute mode.

Kottakalsam -- which is what the techicolour spectacle that unfolded at TVM's Peroorkada junction on Wednesday evening is called to mark the curtain fall ritual on the lively campaign -- is not something residents have seen only in this election.

As a chemist, from whom we buy a version of Electral to replace the electrolytes pilfered by the muggy heat, informs us, Kottakalsam occurs at the end of every election campaign, assembly or parliamentary. Perhaps not with the manfactured fanfare of this election.

IMAGE: Shashi Tharoor atop a crane, here, and below.



IMAGE: A drone camera takes photographs of the action as a small army of photographers capture the scenes from a vantage point atop a nearby building.


IMAGE: Confetti swirls in the air.


IMAGE: The drummers and the performers get ready before their act, here and below.


IMAGE: A band begins to rouse support for Shashi Tharoor.


IMAGE: T-shirts with the candidates's faces on them were visible throughout the event.




IMAGE: Confetti strewn at the rally. You discovered they had sneaked into your clothes when you returned home :(



IMAGE: Thanks to these speakers, parts of your body began to involuntarily shake with the sound.


IMAGE: Balloons in Congress colours.


IMAGE: A hoarding with photographs of a young Shashi Tharoor and Rahul Gandhi.


IMAGE: A BJP supporter with the party flag.


IMAGE: And that, clearly, is a Congress supporter.


IMAGE: BJP supporters at the venue, here and below.



IMAGE: A carnival atmosphere prevailed at the site. Though the three parties and their supporters were there in large numbers cheek by jowl, there was remarkable bonhomie with no cuss words exchanged.


IMAGE: These gentlemen are carrying elements of Rajeev Chandrasekhar's vision for TVM.


IMAGE: CPI flags make their presence known.


IMAGE: As Shashi Tharoor stands atop the crane, a bobblehead of Rajeev Chandrasekhar stands in for the candidate.


IMAGE: A cut-out of the BJP's presiding diety, Narendra D Modi, who played a supporting role at this event.


IMAGE: Another view of the site.


Bobblehead Modi, here and below.


IMAGE: A supporter carries a placard with a photograph of Rajeev Chandrasekhar.


IMAGE: Police personnel keep a strict vigil at the site.


IMAGE: The drums are out in full support of the candidates.


IMAGE: Large cut-outs of Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

IMAGE: Shashi Tharoor seen atop the crane seen amidst the confetti.


IMAGE: Pannyan Raveendran, the CPI candidate for the Thiruvanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, here and below.





IMAGE: There were cut-outs of Pannyan Raveendran too.


IMAGE: CPI supporters, here and below.






IMAGE: Pannyan Raveendran quenches his thirst in the scorching heat.


IMAGE: A CPI supporter dances to the music.


IMAGE: An unusual view of the venue.


IMAGE: We couldn't quite decipher what this performer was all about.




If managing vertigo be an indispensable skill for election candidates, then Shashi Tharoor and Rajeev Chandrasekhar hold the advantage in Thiruvananthapuram parliamentary constituency.

IMAGE: CPI supporters dance and celebrate during the kottikkalasham in Thiruvananthapuram on April 24 Photographs: Shyam G Menon

On Wednesday, April 24, as the noisy and heated campaign drew close to the commencement of silent work mandated by election rules, both gentlemen availed the help of cranes to soar above the crowds gathered for the ceremonial kottikkalasham (climax of the noisy phase of campaigning) at Peroorkada in the city.

IMAGE: CPI candidate Pannyan Raveendran at the kottikkalasham event.

Pannyan Raveendran, older in age and likely wiser, spared everyone the spectacle and opted to engage with fans from the lower altitude of his campaign vehicle.

IMAGE: Shashi Tharoor's corner of the kottikkalasham event ahead of his arrival at Peroorkada, Thiruvananthapuram.

Kerala goes to the polls on April 26. Happening roughly five days after the Thrissur Pooram, Thiruvananthapuram's kottikkalasham resembled a small pooram of sorts with the top candidates -- Tharoor of the United Democratic Front (UDF/Congress), Raveendran of the Left Democratic Front (LDF/Communist Party of India) and Chandrasekhar of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA/Bharatiya Janata Party) -- converging in their own separate convoys at the chosen location for a final pitch to voters in close proximity to each other.

The convergence and nearness followed days of aggressive campaigning during which, none spared the other charges and accusations.

The pitches and request for votes could be heard as audio recording audible during occasional dips in the overall din. None of the candidates spoke publicly at the event.

Peroorkada junction had three distinct spots earmarked for (or taken over by) the major political parties and their supporters. But the turnout was such that the event quickly acquired hues of a carnival with party flags, posters, balloons and other election paraphernalia moving around in each other's terrain.

All three parties had even provided for confetti canons. As music played loudly, bands churned out pulsating beats and last-minute appeals for votes sounded amidst the racket, party workers seemed only too happy to shake a leg and celebrate the end of several days of hard campaigning in an unusually hot summer.

A couple of them took advantage of the flat bed of campaign vehicles to show off their dance moves. With Peroorkada sporting many posters and hoardings of all the three candidates, framing a photograph highlighting only one was tough.

Photo-bombing was rampant. The BJP, for instance, had an oversized puppet of Chandrasekhar suspended for long from their crane till the real person came along; the puppet on the BJP crane must have succeeded in invading many photos showing the early phase of Tharoor's tryst with the Congress crane.

Most eyes were on the two candidates who elected to inhabit high altitude.

IMAGE: Shashi Tharoor waves to the crowd from the platform hoisted by a crane as a large puppet resembling Rajeev Chandrasekhar looks on at the event.

Tharoor was the first to get airborne; his supporters cheered as he took wing.

IMAGE: Shashi Tharoor and Achu Oommen (Oommen Chandy's daughter), high above the crowd at the event.

A relaxed Tharoor, accompanied by Achu, daughter of the late Oommen Chandy (former chief minister of Kerala), appeared to take in the sight from his vantage point on a steel platform dangled at the end of a crane.

He waved to people and to the legions of TV cameramen, who to get a proper wide angle-view of the spectacle, had parked themselves on the top floor of a multistoried building.

IMAGE: Rajeev Chandrasekhar waves to the crowd from his platform hoisted by a crane at the event. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shyam G Menon

Chandrasekhar who lifted off a bit later, hovered in Tharoor's neighborhood. A small flotilla of drones flown by the media kept those airborne, company.

Towards the closing minutes of the event a large poster of Chandrasekhar dangling from the platform he was on, received a ritual pouring of milk (abhishekham) from a senior party official sharing the platform with the candidate.

While the loud music and celebration ended at sharp 6 PM, the imminent advent of the silent phase was also climatically reminded through the gathering of dark clouds and a brief shower bringing welcome relief to people sweating under the summer sun.

Within minutes of the event ending, the assembled campaign vehicles and cranes moved off and the otherwise busy junction on the road linking Thiruvananthapuram city to Nedumangad, was cleared for traffic.

Left behind was a pile of paper waste, soaked by the rain and closer to pulp than anything crisp.

While Thiruvananthapuram's kottikkalasham went by peacefully despite the contest here rated as a close fight and among the most keenly watched competitions of the 2024 general election, the climax of the polls sparked violence between party workers at a few places elsewhere in Kerala.

At Peroorkada, the atmosphere was one of carnival or pooram, whichever you choose for description. And yes, on a still lighter note, the next time Thiruvananthapuram has a task needing execution at vertigo inducing height, you know who to call.

Shyam G Menon is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.

WATCH: Videos From the Kottakalsam:









Photographs edited by Manisha Kotian/
Videos edited by Hitesh Harisinghani/
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024