It has almost become the norm for celebrities from across various fields to drop in to support a candidate of his or her own choice on an election trail. Candidates, however, are also gradually waking up to the possibility of roping in kids to voice support for various political parties.
So what if they have no vote, kids now seem to have stolen the electoral show in poll-bound TN and Kerala, where elections are due to be held on May 16.
In Kerala, 11-year old Anamika S Jithesh has been able to connect with voters and UDF leaders alike. She has travelled across the length and breadth of Kerala in support of the United Democratic Front and has already delivered more than 250 election speeches.
Her fiery speech which usually lasts for half an hour lists out all the achievements of the incumbent UDF government, citing various reasons as to why one should vote it back to power. She also does not forget to come down heavily on the LDF, terming it a āviolentā party with a penchant for political killings.
Anamika -now a class 6 student- had hit the election trail for the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections too. She had then campaigned for Kannurās UDF candidate K Sudhakaran. She was later roped in to support the party in the Aruvikara by-elections last year.
Why does she support the UDF? āI support them because the Congress fought for our freedom,ā she affirms.
Watch one of her speeches here.
Political parties across Tamil Nadu have also been banking on children to garner attention among the masses. Mahakavi Bharathiar Makkal Katchi leader Mylai Sathya was accompanied by a group of children dressed like Tamil poet Bharathiyar- atop two bullock carts when he went to file his nomination papers for the Mylapore seat.
DMK supremo Karunanidhi flagged off his election campaign from Saidapet with flag-waving children lined up on both sides of the road. "We are doing this for our Thalaivar. Would we be smiling if we were forced to do this?ā chuckles one of the kids when asked if they were forced to do it. āI will have to go running behind the campaign van when Thalaivar enters the venue of the rally,ā he adds.
A video of a boy campaigning for DMK went viral across social media platforms, thereby reinforcing the now popular trend to use kids as star campaigners without eating into an already tight budget. Watch the video here.
Will this however amount to violation of a childās rights?
āThere is no explicit violation happening here. If these children do support the various political parties in their own creative manner, there is no rule that denies them permission to do so. Children participate in extempore competitions, right. Well, isnāt that the same as delivering speeches?ā asks Dr MK Beena, Kerala Additional Electoral Officer.
Tami Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhani also confirmed that any voluntary act (children supporting parties without being forced in this case) cannot be construed a punishable offence.