Smitha Shajith can’t remember the first election that she painted pictures and slogans for. She has been doing it for many years and many elections, Smitha says on a call from Kollam. After all these years, one work on a wall in Neeravil in Kollam has now brought her a whole lot of attention. She, her brother UM Binny and her husband Shajith painted that picture for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- CPI(M) -- on a plain white wall.
It shows two women labourers on one side and a little girl on the other. One of the women is standing with a house model in her hand, the other is sitting, counting money. They are dressed in traditional workers clothes, a casual Sari on one, lungi and blouse and towel on the other. They are turning to look at the little girl in school uniform. There are little blue and green hearts flying between them. In the middle is written: "Iratta changa, I like you."
It is a campaign for the CPI(M) for the April Assembly Elections. The Iratta changa (strong-hearted) is a reference to the CPI(M) Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan.
“It might be the caption and the picture of the child and the two women that worked,” says Smitha. She, Binny and Shajith are CPI(M) workers and have taken up painting work for the party for many elections – Lok Sabha, State and Local Body.
Smitha paints an election campaign picture
She has been working as a special teacher of painting at a government school in Kollam for the past five years. “It comes under the Samagra Shiksha Kerala or SSK (a comprehensive programme for the school education sector). Before that I taught painting at a private school.”
Smitha and Shajith – both graduates of the Fine Arts College in Thiruvananthapuram -- are also active in the culture scene, working as artists at a local club – Prakash Kala Kendram.
Kollam Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and actor Mukesh M shared the picture, appreciating the work. "The true spirit of the land is reflected in the painting on the walls of Neeravil supervised by comrades Binny and Smitha, members of the Prakash Kala Kendram," he wrote. The work is also a campaign for Mukesh who is contesting for the second time from Kollam constituency.
Smitha says that a number of people including women and children in the neighbourhood also joined them for the art work.