A multi-level organisational structure, planning, reports and weekly review meetings go into the process.

You see the entrance of a house where a man has come visiting with folded hands and four members of the family are greeting him backImage for representation
news 2021 Kerala Assembly Election Saturday, April 03, 2021 - 15:09

Two days after Mukesh was announced as the Left Democratic Front (LDF)’s candidate in Kollam constituency in Kerala, two women brought a notice to Swapna’s house. It was a campaign notice for Mukesh. They didn’t say much then and Swapna kept the notice away. Three days later, people she knew as workers of the LDF came visiting. This time there was small talk and appeals to vote for Mukesh on the lines of, “your vote is for Mukesh, right?” A third time, LDF workers from the neighbouring ward also visited the house to campaign. In all this time, Swapna says that there had been no visits from members of the rival fronts – none from the team of Bindu Krishna, the United Democratic Front’s (UDF) candidate in Kollam, or that of M Sunil, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate.

From announcing the candidates earlier than others to following old and new ways of campaigning, the LDF appears to have left no stone unturned ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled for April 6. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led party hopes to make history by winning two consecutive terms. 

“For the other parties, there are public gatherings, campaigning and all of that. But the old fashioned door to door campaign by the Congress is missing. The LDF on the other hand appears to have a multi-level organised structure. The other day, my father, who is an LDF supporter, wanted to know how to download Google Meet so his pensioners group can do their bit of online campaigning. Since the elderly can’t get out much (due to COVID-19), they are doing their bit through online means,” says Swapna, a public relations professional in Kollam.

The organisational strength of the LDF transcends multiple levels, says a CPI(M) party worker in Perinthalmanna, Malappuram. “There are clear instructions on what to say in the first round of campaigning, what to do in the second round, what materials to take with us, and all of the other details. In a single booth there will be four to five squads (of party workers). Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, only a few of the party workers go to a home and spend three to five minutes. They talk about the government’s work so far, about what’s in the manifesto and so on,” he says.

There are also booth level reviews every week and reports are submitted. The booth workers say what the mood is and if any problems are presented, the members will discuss a solution in these weekly meetings. 

“A clear plan comes from the top. The execution of it happens at the lower level. This work is not something that begins for elections. It is not about electoral politics. From the beginning, we maintain relations with people in the localities. For instance, I deal with families in 75 houses. I know what happens there, where each member of the family is, what their needs are. We keep interacting with these people and understand their problems,” says the party worker from Perunthalmanna.

Advocate and political commentator Harish Vasudevan says that the door-to-door campaigns have been very strong even at anti-Left constituencies in Ernakulam, where he lives.

“Normally there wouldn’t be active campaigning in constituencies in Ernakulam, most of which vote against LDF. This time however, you can spot the difference. Every home has been visited by LDF members at least twice. The door-to-door campaign started early. It was only later that the Congress even announced their candidates. And when they (LDF members) visit houses, they speak with a personal rapport. Background work done in the (recent) Local Body Election also made them familiar with voters. There would also be women present among these squads visiting homes,” Harish says.

He reckons that perhaps they got data from the Election Commission, and sorted out voters based on their age, community and other information. “With this, they can then raise specific issues of interest to each category of people,” Harish says.

Also read: Kerala's long history of 'cross voting' and why it is unlikely in 2021

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