A true Gandhi follower, Narendran won the fourth ward of Kadambanad panchayat in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.  

Narendran present and past photo of 1963
news Kerala Local Body Polls 2020 Thursday, December 03, 2020 - 12:54

It’s no surprise that rivalries play a major role in polls across the country. But this year’s Kerala local body elections has some unique clashes on deck, as the clamour to canvass for votes grows louder — a mother-son duo contesting for rival parties, brothers contesting each other and close friends competing for different parties from the same ward, to name a few.

While none have explicitly announced their rivalries, they haven’t exactly wished each other luck either. And in a polarised political climate, it seems impossible to imagine rivals voting for each other. But such an unheard phenomenon has been recorded in the history of local body polls in the state.

Case in point: The 1963 local body election when all five rivals of the now 94-year-old G Narendran voted for him, helping him win from the fourth ward of Kadambanad panchayat in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.

G Narendran was the president of Kadambanad grama panchayat 57 years ago. A true Gandhi follower all throughout his life, he consecutively won 11 local body polls, thanks to his victory in 1963 that proved to be a turning point in his political career. The Congress candidate secured 1,501 votes. The number of voters? 1,502.

"There were five other candidates who contested against me that year. At the time, the BJP party was not in the fray but there were other prominent parties. But, every voter from the ward, including my rivals and their families, voted for me, except one person," Narendran recounts with a smile.

Narendran was 37 years old when he bagged that historical victory. "I didn't even know that I won. Everyone reached my home and bellowed 'we won'. My eyes welled up," he recalls.

From 1963 to 1995, he won all the local polls he contested. He was panchayat president for three terms, while the other years, he served as the vice president and ward member. “I had a good number of votes in all those elections, except that one in 1963 where I secured the votes of my rivals, too," he says.

"I was not interested in contesting the elections,” he says. “I was a Congress party member and was serving in some positions of the district party. I was happy with that. I did not even visit any house seeking votes in the weeks leading up to the election," he told TNM.

While serving in the panchayat, he played a key role in bringing many changes. Today, he closely watches the current politics but is not interested in getting involved. "But I always believed in the Congress," he says.