Does anyone eat ice cream in rainy season? Putt ice cream is the star of Puthupally with ‘Karkatakachudi’ and election heat. Puth ice cream, which has already become a hit on social media, is also available in a small shop at the bus stop at Puthupally Kavala. Cornflakes, Nuts, Grapes, Tutti Frutti and Strawberries – A dessert that is ‘boiled’ in the cold with alternating fillings of caramel sauces and ice creams! Two people can eat their fill. Just like putt ice cream in many colors and flavors, when the ballot box is opened on September 8, who will lie sweet? As the excitement of the by-election fills the constituency, the people are clarifying their stand. There are signs of both comfort and concern for political parties in the reactions of voters from various sections of the society to ‘Manorama Online’ who toured the constituency.
After 53 years of Oommen Chandy’s succession, Puthupally constituency is getting a new leader. Who will be the successor of Oommen Chandy who surprised the political Kerala by being more popular than he was alive? Son Chandy Oommen has joined the UDF and Jake C. Thomas has joined the LDF. The answer is ready in the mind of the people as to who will win, many openly say. There are many who say that it is time to change. The first visit to the electorate was to Oommen Chandy’s grave at Puthupally St. George’s Orthodox Church. The baby, restless and crowded around, is peacefully sleeping under a blanket of white flowers. Candles of various colors are burning on the stand in front. Groups from Thiruvananthapuram and Vaikam paid obeisance at the tomb. Selfies were taken alone and in groups.
Outsiders come more than freshers. People coming from different parts of the country. There are those who came on package trips of travel agencies and those who came in their own vehicles. Among them are women and children. There are poor and rich. Young people also throng to take photos from the tomb. Some folded their hands and prayed. Others stared at Oommen Chandy’s portrait. Some were silent, some had tears in their eyes. The petitions are hung on cloth pantals around the tomb as if delivered directly to Oommen Chandy. Poems, pictures like ‘He is equal to him… there is no substitute’… Those who come to the church and those who don’t come to this tomb. The visitors returned after going to Kunjun’s family home and seeing the family members. This nameless crowd testifies to the immortality of Oommen Chandy’s memories.
Pudupally Town. Image: Manorama
∙ ‘No one will be blocked, always open’
The family home is now quiet in Karotu Vallakal, where Oommen Chandy’s ‘Janasambarka’ is held on Sundays. A gentle breeze blows the yard flour, and butterflies flutter among the flowers on the plants. Being right next to the church, Mariamma and her son Chandi Oommen are at Oommen Chandy’s sister’s house. Oommen Chandy’s brother Alex V. Chandy said that the ancestral home will always be open for people as before and there is no obstacle to anyone coming. Alex and his wife Laila live here.
“The crowd was part of this house. It was only after his death that he realized that he had so much popular support all over Kerala. Chandy Oommen is expected to win with a large majority. The problem is that the election was announced before the posthumous ceremony was over. Chandi Oommen comes most days” – Alex said. During the covid period, visitors return to the room where Oommen Chandy used to listen to complaints. Alex tries to fill the gap of Oommen Chandy and take away his sadness by asking for details from all who come.
There is a crowd when Mariamma reaches Chandy’s sister’s house to meet Oommen and Chandy Oommen. Mariamma sits on the veranda with a sad expression on her face, although she is silent to relatives and visitors. The walls are lined with pictures of family members. A half bust of Oommen Chandy at one end of the veranda bears witness to it all.
The media team is waiting to meet Chandi Oommen who is returning from visiting the death homes. Activists from Thiruvananthapuram and local leaders from Kottayam welcomed Chandy wearing a shawl. After asking the workers for details, go to the media. Talk in small words without touching controversies. His reply to the criticism is that Appa has done two types of development in Pudupalli in the form of infrastructure and care for common people.
∙ ‘I will win, I will win’
Jagadamma (77), a native of Asarimuk, Nilakkal, came to see Chandi Oommen, despite her age. Jagadamma said that 3 years ago, when Oommen Chandy told about the disadvantages, he took Rs 1,000 and started the lottery business using that money. “Now I live alone. Livelihoods are earned by selling the lottery. Oommen went door to door seeking votes for Chandy. Now I will also ask for votes for my son” – Jagadamma clarified. When Jagadamma said, ‘I will win, I will win’, Chandi Oommen held her close, saying, ‘I have to pray.’
A six-member gang of local people opened fire at Puthupally intersection. They will not go without knowing any of the stories and stories of the country. This is a group that is disappearing from the countryside in general. At Puthupalli Kavala, these friends always meet and gather together. A. M. Mathai (Kunju-72) is an ex-employee of KSRTC who has been with Oommen Chandy since 1970. Mathai says that Chandi Oommen is Kemanu to follow the footsteps of Oommen Chandy. There is no doubt that Mathai will get a majority of over 40,000.
PJ Jacob, CC Bhaskaran, dental technician KT Kurian, auto driver boss Mathew, mechanic VT Kurian and others are with Mathai. All living in and around Pudupally. Even small movements in politics are discussed among them. When the boss said that Nibu John, who was heard to be a leftist candidate, should have been contested, Mathai’s reply was that he would not get even a penny. The fun of these friends is to annoy each other by taking walks. Accusations and counter-accusations in the elections are burning for it.
∙ ‘On protest, not voting’
The association of autorickshaw drivers at Payyappadi Kavala is saying that they will not vote this time. Auto drivers Biju, Sunil, Vishwan, Raju, Jomon, John Phillipos and others say that they are the victims of stunted development. “No matter who wins, it will not benefit the natives. Roads in and around Payyappadi are very bad. We can’t drive an auto. There are about 30 autos here. The road is bad and the race is short. Because the road is broken, even if someone calls, the race cannot go.
Leftist candidate Jake C. Thomas speaking to journalists at Manarkad Panchayat office. Image: Manorama
There are always promises of parties and candidates. After the election, there will be no winners and losers. The country needs real development. Oommen Chandy has helped people regardless of politics. The development of the country, including roads, was not enough. Our decision is to vote this time as we are not interested in any party.” – auto drivers said.
∙ ‘Must act without thinking’
Amidst Onathirak’s work, the talk at Makarathil Fashions Tailor Shop in Kattilpadi area is about elections. Annamma Abraham (75), who came to the shop, said that she felt sad when she saw Oommen Chandy’s mourning. Never mind the criticism. He has done everything for the country. Annamma also commented that there will be a wave of sympathy. Sajini Rajesh, a resident of Narakathod, a shop owner, commented that he wants to see if his son will come as far as his father.
When Narakathotkari Lata said that no matter who comes, we will suffer, Ajitha, a native of Kattilpadi, did not join any side. Oommen Chandy personally helped many people. Not only that, the garment workers are united in wanting development in the constituency. He was a leader approachable to anyone without any differences. While cutting the churidar, Sajini reminded that if the caste and religion party works without differences, Chandi Oommen will also benefit from it.
Vikas, a native of Kumarakam Cheepunkal, who was writing on the wall in Payyappadi, said, ‘Last time I wrote Oommen Chandy, this time it is enough to write Chandy Oommen.’ He has been a graffiti artist for 10 years. “The wall is written for all parties. Even if all the flags and banners come, only if the name of the candidate is displayed on the wall in many colors, it will be remembered by the people. The practice is to draw and write without using a stencil. Choose the color of your choice. There will be at least 5 colors. On average, 100 milliliters per half liter of paint is required for a mural. Vikas said up to 9 walls were written in one day.
∙ ‘There is no politics, the majority will increase’
Sreeja, a resident of Chennamtam, said that criticism will not affect her and her son can win like Oommen Chandy, who was standing at the bus stop in Pampadi Vattamalapadi. “He would do whatever he could to help us if we called him directly or on the phone. It was very close. I have no politics. Oommen Chandy sir did not look at anyone’s politics and helped him. He is humane. He was able to speak from among the people. I am happy to be from the same country.” – Sreeja said.
“We can hope that his son will also get the love of the natives for Sir. But the trend in the by-election may not be the same in the next election. Then his work will be assessed” – Indu, a resident of Vazhur, who was at the bus stop with Sreeja, clarified that Nayam took advance bail and said that he is not a voter of Pudupally.
“Elections coming at the time of Onam will create sentiment against the government. People have no money. Supplyco stores are out of stock. It is the rise in prices that is bothering the common man” – said Jubi, who has been running a grocery shop at Pampadi College Junction for 10 years. Jubi also pointed out that even if it is not the voter of the constituency, it is the public discourse of the people.
Shaji Mathew, who has been selling lottery tickets at Alampally Junction for more than 10 years, had this to say about how Chief Minister Oommen Chandy intervened when his son needed urgent treatment. Shaji said that Oommen Chandy was not dead in his mind and he did not see anyone separately. He also says that despite contesting twice, LDF’s Jake C. Thomas has no connections in the constituency.
With the arrival of political leaders, activists and media representatives from different parts of Kerala to fuel the campaign, the demand for rental houses in Puthupally increased. No matter how much it is inflated, the locals say that there are people who will buy a house for that amount. The group that finds vacant houses and gives them away is also active.
It was after 2:30 in the afternoon that I went to the Vanita Hotel in Erumapetti, Manarkad to get rid of my hunger. The sisters replied that the meal was over early because the politicians and media workers had arrived all over the country for the election. Jake C. Thomas and Chandy Oommen are young, so there will be good competition, say Sujatha and Reena, employees of the hotel. Both of them also shared the hope that more food will be spent in the coming days.
English Summary: Puthuppally By Election: Voters in the Puthuppally Assembly Constituency open up their likes and dislikes.
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