Polling in the first phase of Kerala local elections began on Tuesday. The first phase comprises five districts - Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki - where the public campaigning ended on December 6.
For many people, the end of election campaigning comes as a huge relief. In most residential areas of Thiruvananthapuram district, campaigning using loudspeakers began around 6am to 6.30 am. Vehicles carrying loud speakers blared announcements, parody songs, and promises of candidates from morning till evening. The name of the candidate, party symbol and party name will be repeated over and over as the campaign vehicle makes its way through the residential neighbourhoods.
One Facebook post asking why election campaigns have to entail this level of noise pollution appeared on the Facebook group â€˜Where in Trivandrum (WIT)â€™, with many sharing their experience. "My family has decided to vote for the party which made less noise," says one comment. Another writes, "We have decided not to vote as a protest over this noise pollution. Four of us will not cast our vote."
Yet another person posts, "It has been a complete nuisance, I am at home and having a migraine. My microphones are also ineffective against this level of noise. If only I had a soundproof room. I need a few hours more of peaceful sleep to cure this migraine!!" Majority of the comments over the issue were against loud campaigning, with many expressing relief that the polling had come to an end.
Mary* who lives in a residential area near Thirumala says, "My husband and I are more than 70 year old. We used to sleep in the afternoon for sometime but over the last many days we were so tired that we did not get sleep. My husband doesn't get enough sleep at night due to some ailments. The only time he sleeps is after lunch. We know that it's just for a few days, but for us this continuous noise was unbearable."
Another resident who lives in Punnakamugal says, "They would start around 6.15 am in the morning. My baby is just one and he would get up and start crying. The whole day he will be fussy as his day time sleep was also interrupted as these announcements come every 30 minutes. I work from home and really struggled with my son so irritated," Sandhya, a 28-year-old woman, says.
"We are happy that the campaigning has ended. But we are worried about the upcoming Assembly Elections as they will do this again. We are mainly worried about children at home, as they are not able to sleep," Santha, a resident of Mudavanmukal, says.
However, not everyone is complaining about the campaigning. "I agree that it's annoying, but after lockdown and COVID-19, I enjoy these noises, even though I have a baby at my home. It is only once in a blue moon. I feel so refreshed," reads one comment on Facebook.
Raveendran, a local politician and a resident from Poojappura, points out that campaigning is part of the democratic process. "It is only once in five years.It is part of democracy. So maybe people can adjust for a few days," he says.