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The Dance of the Heroines

For Easter I had gone up to Coonoor, where the weather was absolutely blissful. The only thing that spoilt the peace were the election songs trilling the glories of the various leaders and singing paeans to the dance of Jayalalithaa. Perhaps she will continue to dance or she will dance out. Whatever. Interesting how the women candidates do their stuff. I did a story on Sindhu Joy for The New Indian Express. Now for those who want to know who the hell is Sindhu Joy? She is making her electoral debut in this Assembly election and is battling the Chief Minister in Puthupally. Here is a little about her……..

``Here comes the heroine of the land” – mikes atop jeeps herald her arrival as the student leader’s cavalcade trundles through the muddy roads of rubber and pineapple estates in Puthupally constituency. High drama and symbols best sum up the ingenuity of, Puthupally’s first woman contestant’s, campaign trail. Laced with emotions, Sindhu Joy’s lines are scripted to pull at the heartstrings of the women and the youth. And they do to some extent. The young and the old women in rural garb drop their work and listen to her. Hands clasping their jaws, they cluck at the sad tale of Sindhu Joy. Chhchhchhhchhhhoo!

Joy, who is also the first woman state president of SFI, is pulling out all stops to make a dent in Oommen Chandy’s sizeable vote bank. Playing the religious card (Stupid! Religion is not opium at election time), the communists are touting her Roman Catholic background to overtly woo the RC voters in the constituency. Brandishing a hand crutch, that symbolizes her physical struggle against the educational policy of the UDF government, her repetitive speeches never deviate from the grenade content. Local issues are not so explosive or so important. ``My hand was broken by the police in 2003, I was jailed for 24 days in 2004, the police threw a grenade at me in 2005, and I am still under treatment for my injuries. I have no one and my only fault is that I struggled against the educational policies of the UDF. I did that so ordinary people like you can study.’’

An old woman holding her chest is caught up in the Sindhu Joy moment. ``I will vote for her. Poor thing she has no one, she is an orphan.’’ Strange reason to cast a vote for a candidate, but most often women are unwittingly swayed by emotions than by reason. (Ahhh I should know that.) And Joy is leaning on it heavily. Using every crutuch- the emotional crutch too. But the men who stand around are nonchalant about the emotional drama enacted in front of them. When the question,``Don’t you feel anything when you listen to her?’’ is put to a small time shop keeper, he replies, ``No, she is only talking about her woes. What about ours?’’

Shockingly, the villagers in Puthupally constituency have their share of woes with bad roads, water problems and unemployment like the rest of rural India. We expected to see “SMART” villages in a pampered constituency, but Puthuppally’s rural areas are no different. But the many of the villagers just shrug off their dismal state. “The roads will come”, “Chandy is from here”, “He will win”, is mouthed by even those who have come to listen to Sindhu Joy. The “nammude nattukaran” image of Chandy will fetch him the votes. Confirms a BJP worker,``My brother and I are both BJP workers but my mother will still vote for Chandy.”

Joy is up against a formidable opponent. Oommen Chandy has been winning from this constituency since 1970, a marathon eight times. Will he win again?

Met predictions: the atmospheric conditions say YES.

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