Bengaluru: For voters in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai, R. Saravanan, an Independent candidate, has a slew of outlandish promises — helicopters, iPhones, three-storeyed villas and Rs 1 crore in their accounts.
That, however, is only one half of it. Saravanan’s marquee poll promise literally involves the stars — he has assured every constituent a trip to the moon if voted to power.
To be fair, Saravanan told The New Indian Express that his poll manifesto was a satire of the state’s freebie culture, which particularly makes an appearance during elections.
That, though, is not the case with Thanga Kathiravan, the AIADMK candidate from Nagapattinam who has promised his voters washing machines.
To get his message across, Kathiravan has been spotted on his campaign washing clothes. A video of him rinsing and wringing out water from clothes after washing them with detergent has now gone viral on social media.
These candidates are not alone.
From frying fish, making parathas and tea to getting down and dirty in fields and beedi factories, candidates in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been indulging in bizarre and innovative gimmicks to woo voters.
The candidate chefs
A lot of the candidates, it appears, are looking to cook up a poll storm.
At Virugambakkam constituency in Chennai, DMK candidate Prabhakar Raja has been caught on camera cooking dosa by the roadside. To his credit, he does ensure a crisp, round one.
Priyadarshini of Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiyam has taken that a notch higher. On one of her campaign runs in her constituency of Egmore, Priyadarshini stopped by a roadside stall and helped a vendor fry spicy fish.
The BJP’s star candidate Khushbu Sundar, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chaiwaala image, engaged in some tea diplomacy in her Thousand Lights constituency. She posted images on her Twitter account showing her meeting the Nawab of Arcot and his family over tea.
In neighbouring Kerala, sitting Idukki MLA and the Kerala Congress (Mani) candidate Roshy Augustine found time to learn making Kerala parottas.
A video on social media shows him kneading dough, slapping it on a marble surface with ease before roasting it on the stove. Augustine was returning from his campaign at Kattappana in the district.
Getting down and dirty
Some candidates have taken to emulating their constituents to learn of “their hardships”.
The AIADMK candidate from Singanallur in Coimbatore, K.R. Jayaram, hit a vegetable market in his constituency and spent time selling vegetables and fruits. He apparently used the opportunity to understand the problems of the vendors and promised them better infrastructure, among other things.
The MLA from Madurai and Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, R.B. Udhayakumar, has been seen working in paddy fields in Thirumangalam on his campaign trail.
The DMK’s candidate at Edappadi, T. Sampath Kumar, who is contesting against Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy, visited a beedi-making factory in his constituency, and helped out the women rolling beedis.
Of the others, Tamil actor Mansoor Ali Khan had announced that he would contest as an Independent candidate from the Thondamuthur constituency in Coimbatore before he decided to back out. But not before he made a mark on social media, after he was spotted sitting by a garbage bin with a notebook to note down the grievances of people.
Cabinet Minister Jayakumar has been donning the signature “MGR” cap and seeking votes in a cycle rickshaw at his constituency of Royapuram in Chennai.
In Kerala, LDF-backed Independent candidate K.T. Sulaiman Haji, who is contesting from the Kondotty seat in Malappuram district, has promised to give away free tickets for the 2022 World Cup football tournament if elected.
Haji has promised to conduct a football tournament and the winners will be given tickets to watch the World Cup in Qatar. He also claimed that the tournament would be held with the cooperation of all football clubs in his constituency, and has also decided on its name — MLA Trophy.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)