Sulochana's long march

As I write this, there is an sense of uneasy anticipation in Kerala. It's less than twelve hours to go before local body polls in 7 districts in Kerala.

St. Mary's School in Pattom, Trivandrum would already be buzzing with activity at seven in the morning. Workers from all the major fronts - CPM led LDF, Congress-I led UDF and BJP will be at their positions. Sulochana, 58 years of age - a domestic worker and part-time tailor entrepreneur, will be already on her way to St. Mary's School. Unbeknownst to the bevy of news journalists, external poll observers and political pundits roving around the city snapping up celebrities and elites - not to mention that front page snap of the Trivandrum MP who may have flown in from New York to cast his vote - she, her family and her friends from the local Kudumbasree women's collective would pass by largely unnoticed. UDF and BJP booth workers - unless they were "employees" from outside - would've already given them a cross mark in their voters lists. A campaign-weary LDF worker - most likely a CITU headload worker who has lost his wages for the last month or a student activist worried about the attendance at school - would silently nod and pass her a slip and say "button nokki amarthane" (please be careful with the button). And press she will - for the symbol is one that she has come to identify as her own.

Dear Mr. Political Pundit and Ms. Undecided Voter, if you take the time to ask Sulochana or the millions of the unheard and nameless in Kerala, you wouldn't have any trouble locating that symbol on that panel of buttons. "Arival Chuttika Nakshatram". However, to realize that you'll have to look beyond the cacophony that passes of as news and analysis in the mainstream corporate-controlled media.

This is Sulochana's struggle. To reclaim Kerala from the gods and elites, the clutches of an regressive and corrupt right-wing alliance that threatens to pull Kerala back into the dark ages. A struggle to protect and sustain the phenomenal socio-economic progress that has swept across Kerala. A struggle to keep alive the left-progressive platform of inclusive development against the marauding bandits from North Block and Wall St.

So, whose side will you be on?