A few days after she was nominated as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) candidate in a Kollam ward in the local body polls, Sudharma Devarajan came to know that she’d be contesting against her son, Dinuraj. It made her tense, but she decided to go ahead with the contest. Dinuraj, a Communist party worker since his high school days, became the CPI(M)’s candidate in the same ward – Panchavila in Edamulackal panchayat.
“I did my schooling in Wayanad. Even back then, I was a member of the Students Federation of India (SFI). When I came to our hometown of Edamulackal, I became active in the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). During COVID-19, I was very much into community kitchen work, providing food for the helpless and the needy. Perhaps because of that, the party nominated me to contest the election,” says Dinuraj.
His mother, he says, comes from a BJP family. Her father was actively involved with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent party of the BJP.
Sudharma had not been a member of the BJP until five years ago, when she joined to contest the election from the same ward. “I joined as a contestant of the seventh ward, our home,” she says. That year, she lost the election to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate by 335 votes.
A year ago, she became a mandalam committee member of the Mahila Morcha, the women’s wing of the BJP.
“They might have thought I’d withdraw my candidature if they fielded my son against me. But we don’t let party politics affect our peace at home. I can’t stop giving him food and he can’t stop calling me Amma because we are contesting against each other. At times there would be political debates, but we deal with it in a healthy manner,” Sudharma says.
Dinuraj's father who accompanied his wife for campaigning is also a follower of the BJP. "He only joined for one day. I told him not to come anymore or our son would feel bad. I said that he should go with Dinuraj next for campaigning," adds Sudharma.
Dinuraj had worked in the Gulf for a few years before coming back to Kollam and starting a product designing firm with a few others. Politics, he says, is a personal matter. “My mother didn’t have a political inclination earlier though she comes from a family of BJP members. But then five years ago, she joined to contest the polls.”
The son steps out of the house at 5 or 6 in the morning. At the time, his parents would be taking care of the dairy animals at home. The mother steps out for her campaigning later. Dinuraj now stays at the ancestral home during election time so that members of either party needn’t feel awkward coming to the same place for campaign plans. “We haven’t let political differences affect our relations of course, this is just for everyone’s convenience,” he adds.