“I will sing my way into your hearts,” Remya Haridas, the Lok Sabha candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) from Alathur constituency in Kerala, had said during her election campaigns. As the election results trickle in, it seems Remya’s words have come true.
With a comfortable lead over LDF candidate PK Biju, also sitting MP of the constituency, Remya is all set to become the second ever Dalit woman Member of Parliament (MP) from Kerala. Bhargavi Thankappan from CPI was the first woman Dalit MP from Kerala, who had won from the Adoor seat in 1971.
While Remya has won 5,33,815 votes, PK Biju has managed to get 3,74,847 votes. She won by a magin of 1,58,968 votes.
“This is for the people of Alathur,” said Remya as she started reciting a poem to thank the voters - the trademark character of this young candidate.
“I thank the voters of Alathur because it is they who took up my campaigning and turned things around as it is now. I am indebted to the people of Alathur and will be with them as their representative,” she later added.
In the two Lok Sabha elections the constituency witnessed after its formation post delimitation in 2008, the people of Alathur has stood with the Left. Remya, a Block Panchayat President, was not the name that many expected as the UDF candidate. Despite this, she managed to grab eyeballs with her diverse campaigning, and put up a challenging fight against PK Biju, who was a non-controversial man trusted by the people in the constituency.
Hailing from a humble family in Kozhikode district, with her father being a daily wage labourer and her mother a tailor, Remya connected with the public, often speaking about her background.
“I come from a very humble background. So I know what the needs and aspirations of the people are and I will be with the people of Alathur if I win,” one of the things she constantly said during her campaigns.
Remya is often quoted as a candidate handpicked by Congress President Rahul Gandhi. She received attention after being shortlisted for the Talent Hunt programme started by Rahul Gandhi in 2011. Though her name has been doing the rounds before the official list of Congress came out, the candidature came as a surprise even to her, Remya had said earlier.
At the time when Remya’s candidature was announced, she was the Block Panchayat President of Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode district. She resigned from the post a week after the election on April 23, expressing her confidence in winning the polls.
The 32-year-old leader is one of the Lok Sabha candidates in the country with the least assets – Rs 22, 816.
Like Remya, LDF’s PK Biju is also an outsider in the constituency. Hailing from Kottayam, Biju also comes from humble family origins, his parents being agricultural labourers.
Though Biju had gone back to the constituents asking them to vote for him based on his good performance in the Parliament, it seems Remya, who has had an upper hand throughout the campaign, was able to harness the popularity that both she and the Congress enjoyed and translate that into a victory.