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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

In Kerala, Congress’ youngest candidate mixes fiery speeches with songs

Remya who was a surprise choice, handpicked by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, says singing is one of her talents and would use it during campaigning.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 14, 2019 16:59 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Alathur
Congress candidate in Alathur  constituency Remya Haridas  interacting with members of the public during her campaign.
Congress candidate in Alathur constituency Remya Haridas interacting with members of the public during her campaign.(Vivek R Nair/HT PHOTO)

At first glance it looks like a music concert. But it is not. Instead, it is Congress candidate in Alathur (Palakkad district) constituency Remya Haridas (32) singing her way through her campaign when she is not delivering fiery speeches.

She readily obliges members of the public who ask her to sing a song when she in on the campaign trail. Her opponents have often criticised her saying it is not a reality show, but a serious business. But she is unmoved.

“I am a singer from my childhood. When people ask me to render a few lines of late Kalabhavan Mani or other singers I can’t resist. After all songs have a soothing effect and they are symbol of love and compassion,” she said. In school and college festivals she won many honours in singing, dancing and elocution and she says it is natural for her to use all her talents during the campaign. And so, her rallies have a combination of fiery speeches and mellifluous songs.

It is the constituency (earlier it was Ottapalam) from where late K R Narayanan of the Congress had won twice before he went to become the Vice-President and President of the country. After his exit, it always turned to the Left and the Congress now wants to regain it.

Remya was a surprise choice and was handpicked by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The daughter of Dalit farm labourer from Kunnamangalam on the outskirts of Kozhikkode (north Kerala) she was spotted by the party leadership during a talent hunt in 2012 and groomed. She is the state secretary of Mahila Congress and the president of Kunnamanglam block panchayat.

The youngest of Congress candidates is pitted against powerful two-time sitting MP P K Biju of the CPI(M). She knows she can’t sing her way to victory so easily so she is leaving no stones unturned. Two weeks back she had petitioned the Election Commission after Left Democratic Front convener A Vijayaraghvan allegedly passed lewd comments against her.

Addressing a convention in Ponnani (Malappuram) he had said: “She had visited Kunhalikutty after her candidature was announced. I don’t know what will happen to her now.”

He was indirectly referring to the infamous ice cream parlour sex racket of 1990s in which IUML’s Kunhalikutty’s name also cropped up. But Kutty who is the sitting MP from Malappuram was given a clean chit by courts later.

“There is an inherent tendency to pull women down citing their gender. Times have changed. But many are not willing to accept it. People who make such loaded comments should realize that I also come from a family. I won’t be intimidated by such comments,” she said.

“My fight is against anti-people policies of the state and central governments. Rather it is a fight for the soul of country. Divisive forces are trying to break unity of the country. The beauty of India is its different communities, various languages and myriad customs,” she said.

But her main opponent P K Biju said Alathur was a stronghold of the LDF and mere drama won’t fetch her votes. “She may be a good singer. But politics is different. My 10 years’ work in the constituency will speak for me,” said Biju. The BJP-led NDA has fielded T V Babu here. The LDF is planning to parade many singers and street artists to outshine her singing sessions.

First Published: Apr 14, 2019 16:59 IST

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