Kerala Polls 2016
Praveen Arimbrathodiyil to contest from Thiruvananthapuram constituency as an independent candidate
Praveen Arimbrathodiyil

The only people that were missing from Kerala’s political scene were pirates. But now we have them too in our midst, all geared up for assembly polls due to be held on May 16.

The Indian Pirates Party is all set for its electoral debut in Kerala with Praveen Arimbrathodiyil to contest as an independent candidate from Thiruvananthapuram constituency.

The party armed with its official symbol -that of an anchor and a pirate flag- is however reportedly not interested in looting you in the open seas or on land for that matter. It claims to have its origins in the pirate movement in Sweden and Germany and is a vociferous proponent of piracy issues, free knowledge, digital rights and direct democracy.

A native of Palakkad, Praveen is one among the five core members who started the movement in India in 2013.

“Though we did eventually intend to dabble in politics, we actually began this piracy movement to advocate free software. The primary step was to propagate our ideas and create a ground-base by organizing various campaigns to spread word about our activities in the free software space. One such campaign was the pirate cycling campaign that we conducted over a period of one month across Kerala,” he shares.

However, the movement did not gain momentum as some members withdrew support. A second attempt at revamping did not bear results either. It was only six months ago that Praveen along with his 7-member team went in for a re-launch and also decided to contest elections.

“In every political party, there are leaders and followers. We don’t believe in such a hierarchy. So there is neither a president nor a secretary in this party; we are all permanent members who can participate directly in the decision-making process,” Praveen says.

The party is yet to be registered. Taking into consideration their inexperience in politics, Praveen does not consider winning the election as their immediate target.

“We actually view the medium of elections as a means to spread the word about our movement and garner maximum support that will eventually strengthen our party,” he elaborates.

He goes on to add that even though piracy and digital rights were the driving forces that created the movement, equality, direct democracy and transparency form the party’s core principles.

 

What demarcates them from other political parties

“The difference between other parties and ours is that all party discussions are available in the public domain which in itself makes us unique. Other parties theoretically preach equal rights for their members but they seldom implement it on ground. With no physical entity existing as a party office, it is through our online interactions that we intend to overcome the limitation of physical space,” affirms this political novice who hails from a left-leaning family. 

Unlike the LDF and UDF election manifestoes, the Indian Pirate Party will instead publish its basic principles and constitution. “Since this is our first time at the elections, we do not want to make mere hollow promises. We have instead decided to reach out to maximum number of people,” he says.

The party’s official election campaign is all set to begin on April 23. Door-to-door campaigning and extensive use of the social media to promote their goals are planned.

Elections have always been a costly affair and so they have opted for crowd-funding to meet the expenses incurred. Praveen is upbeat about the few thousand rupees that they have already managed to raise and is optimistic about generating a positive response from the public especially from among the youth.

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