Kochi: For 65-year-old Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons the name of the game is ‘Kannanthanam’, his unique way of soliciting votes that involves brisk walking, breaking into a jog then running and even jumping in between.
Alphons is popularly called ‘Kannanthanam’ (his family name) in his home state of Kerala. Nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2017, the former bureaucrat is looking forward to securing a seat in the Lok Sabha this time.
Being a surprise choice by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency, Alphons was spotted on the road even before sunrise near the Kochi stadium on Saturday.
Sporting a track suit, he was freely interacting with people — mostly at that hour the ones who bump into him are joggers. He joins them, teaches them how to loosen up before engaging in a rigorous work out.
His morning routine takes a toll on his partymen who are often unable to keep up with his pace.
Morning workout over, Alphons moves onto to the nearby wayside tea stall. As he sips his hot cuppa, Kannanthanam gets busy seeking votes between his tete-a-tete with people there.
Alphons will be taking on young Congress legislator Hibi Eden, whose father George Eden represented the Ernakulam constituency in the past. The other contestant will be former Rajya Sabha member and senior CPI-M leader P. Rajeev.
The seat for the past two terms has been held by six-time Lok Sabha member K.V. Thomas, who was dropped by the Congress this time from its list of candidates.
No one knows whether Alphons’s style of campaigning will pay off. But one thing is certain, he has definitely walked into the hearts of the electorate with this down to earth style.
A Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan, Alphons preferred to be fielded from Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency, as it is his home town, and also includes the Kanjirapally Assembly constituency, which he won after quitting the Indian Administrative Service as a Left-supported candidate in the 2006 Assembly polls.