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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Captain @99

In the country’s red bastion, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan beats history and opponents with relative ease

Captain @99
Illustration by Saahil
Captain @99
outlookindia.com
2021-05-15T08:47:11+05:30

Sometimes, simple human reactions tell a story much more completely than dry statistics. It’s not just that they are more evocative—in expressing a singular mood, they catch a collective moment, resonating with larger, mass sentiments. On the day election results were announced in Kerala, the video of a lone elderly woman went viral on social media. It was a simple video: the woman, in her 70s, was seen walking down an empty street waving a CPI(M) party flag, while two policemen looked on, somewhat amused at the sight of the cheerleader. There was a stringent ban on victory celebrations in place, but the police had fair reason not to stop her: mask, face shield, social distancing protocol, all was in place. She was celebrating the stupendous victory of the CPI(M)-led LDF, but showed no obvious emotion. It was a plain, unadorned walk—the walk of one set on a determined path. A Communist ditty played in the background. In one brief frame, it caught the blend of expectation, subdued elation and, most importantly, validation that pervaded the air among Left leaders, cadres and supporters. It was as if, in those few seconds, that lady had been allegorised. She was Kerala.

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It was a historic day for party loyalists like her in Kerala for a variety of reasons. Elsewhere in the country, a very different narrative had managed a seemingly unshakable hold over the popular political mind. Kerala had long been seen and portrayed as an anachronism, even an aberration—how long could it hold out? Mass media, while now­here near the ear-splitting toxicity often seen in the north, had that same distinct bias, cast in more refined tones. Most importantly, there was tradition. In the...

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