As Kerala gears up for the assembly elections 2021, the leaders of all the major political parties in the state are busy campaigning and meet as many voters as possible. However, most of them confess that they do not get enough time to enjoy a wholesome meal at a proper time.
Let's have a look at the food habits and unique lifestyle of some of the most eminent political leaders in Kerala.
Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister
The Chief Minister is extremely conscious about his health and food habits. Just like with everything else, he doesn’t take food and nutrition lightly. Vijayan became extra careful about all these especially since the outbreak of the pandemic. After sharing a stage with CPI leader Binoy Viswam, who tested positive, the Chief Minister began diligently using a special mask that covers almost half of the face and he seldom slides it down. However, he is not someone who is overly worried about his health. He makes sure to catch some exercise in the morning. He doesn’t drink tea or coffee and prefers boiled and cooled water. Pinarayi Vijayan doesn’t take special care just because the summer sun is blazing; however, he is not ready to lower his guard that could put his health in jeopardy.
Oommen Chandy, former Chief Minister
Oommen Chandy is someone who forgets to eat when he gets immersed in the problems of the people and the party workers. However, his wife Mariyamma makes sure that the septuagenarian has his breakfast at eight in the morning before he leaves the house. He usually eats his lunch in the car while on the road.
Oommen Chandy likes simple and light meals for lunch. As he enjoys curd vada, he wouldn’t mind stopping his car in front of a hotel that serves it. He too doesn’t drink tea or coffee. It is only rarely that the leader eats anything from a house that he visits. He always carries fruits in his car to satiate his hunger pangs. For dinner, Oommen Chandy loves to have hot kanji or rice gruel. Be it at home or at a guest house, kanji is a must for the Congress stalwart.
Ramesh Chennithala, opposition leader
Ramesh Chennithala drinks lots of hot water. Besides, he likes to have his food hot too. Be it kanji, dosa or plain water, the opposition leader prefers to have it hot and fresh. He isn’t too keen to try colder food items. So, he is not bothered by throat infections or other diseases that could be caused by consuming cold food items. A few pieces of papaya are a must for breakfast. Refreshing buttermilk and tender coconut water are Ramesh’s favourite drinks to beat the heat.
The opposition leader’s car would stop immediately if he spots a wayside shop that sells sweet sugarcane juice. He had become a complete vegetarian for some time. However, he has started eating fish lately. He prefers eating less amount of rice for lunch. Instead, he likes to have the curries more. The classic vegetable salad is the opposition leader’s favourite snack. Though he had tested positive for COVID-19, Ramesh Chennithala says he regained his health soon due to his good food habits and lifestyle. Ramesh doesn’t skip his daily yoga and exercise in the morning.
Kanam Rajendran, CPI state secretary
Kanam Rajendram always prefers eating small portions of food. Usually, he eats the food that is prepared for others at the MN memorial building. The lunch is simple and often consists of a thoran (vegetable stir fry), avail, sambar or rasam. Fish curry too is a regular item for lunch. However, smaller fishes are cooked for the curry here.
Once, while eating lunch, Kanam joked about the size of the fishes in the curry, “Are these fishes caught using net? From the size of these fishes, it seems they are caught using a tea strainer.” There would be a flask with hot water, always on Kanam’s desk. He makes sure that there is hot water in his car too. The breakfast is always either idli or dosa. A cup of unsweetened tea is a must with breakfast. Though he has an aversion to anything sweet, he doesn’t mind tasting a delicious dessert if he is offered one. For lunch, Kanam doesn’t eat too much rice. However, he makes sure to eat lots of curries. He likes to have fish and chicken dishes in moderation. Chapathis accompanied by a simple curry is his usual dinner.
V Muraleedharan, union minister of state
The minister insists that he has his breakfast before 7.30 in the morning. Other than this, he doesn’t care about the time when he has the rest of the meals. Puttu, idiyappam, appam and stew are some of his favourite breakfast items. On Thursdays and Saturdays, Muraleedharan becomes a strict vegetarian for personal reasons. He eats his meals mostly at the homes of his friends or party workers. He rarely eats from hotels or wayside eateries. He says that the party workers invite him to their homes to have meals, especially during election time. Though he had decided not to drink too much tea, Muraleedharan confesses he cannot help but drink it, especially during the tea breaks while campaigning.
J Mercykutty Amma, Fisheries minister
Mercykutty Amma says the election or the campaigning hasn’t changed her food habits much. The fisheries minister, however, insists that there should be a fish dish for lunch. She isn’t interested in eating chicken dishes. Idli, dosa and appam are some of the regular breakfast items. She too prefers having food in limited portions.
Kadala curry (Bengal gram) is her favourite combination with hot puttu. For lunch, she eats rice with regular curries that aren’t too spicy. The minister eats chapathis for dinner. No matter how hot the weather is, Mercykutty Amma likes drinking hot water. She says she drinks more water than usual during the election campaigning. She isn’t particular about eating only home-cooked food. Mercykutty Amma would be more than happy if a party worker invites her to his house for a meal.
K Surendran, BJP state president
Surendran credits his morning yoga and lots of tea for his impressive energy throughout the day. During the campaigning or the recently concluded Vijaya Yathra, he mostly has his meals from the party workers’ homes. After his regular yoga and Morning Prayer, Surendran eats a modest breakfast of just two idlis. Now, he eats whatever he gets from the places that he visits as part of the campaigning. He would at least have three cups of tea in the morning.
As his love for tea is well known, everyone loves offering Surendran a nice and refreshing cup of tea. He prefers fish curry for lunch. So, his supporters make sure that there is fish if the lunch is arranged at their homes. As Surendran drinks lots of tea during the day, he doesn’t need tea in the evening. He says there is no specific time for him to have tea as he would love to have it at any time, though not within half an hour after lunch. He mostly eats his dinner at around 11.30 pm as he would be busy attending meetings and discussions, planning election strategies.
Shashi Tharoor, MP
Shashi Tharoor’s love for the humble idli is well known. Simple chilli chutney is what he loves to have with idli for breakfast. The MP is so addicted to the soft and fluffy idlis that he would love to have it for all his meals. Those who know his love for the dish make sure that there is idli for his meals. The Thiruvananthapuram MP doesn’t mind eating dosas too.
Tharoor is a vegetarian. He enjoys a cup of unsweetened tea during the day. Tender coconut water is his favourite drink to keep him refreshed. He tries not to miss his morning exercise, which is an hour of walk on the treadmill. However, he skips the exercise, if he had travelled during the previous night. No matter how busy he is, Tharoor always finds time to read and write. This, he says, is the secret of his mental health.
PK Krishnadas, BJP’s national executive committee member
Krishnadas prefers drinking unsweetened tea, but he might eat a laddoo after that. A diabetic patient, Krishnadas always thinks of sticking to a healthy diet that suits him. However, he confesses that it is not possible due to his busy schedules. Most of his meals are in the homes of the party workers. He isn’t particular about anything when it comes to food habits. However, he makes sure that he eats a healthy and filling breakfast. Krishnadas loves fish dishes. So, his decision to turn vegetarian often fails as his followers in all the districts know about this. Similarly, though he has decided to cut down on his tea intake, he wouldn’t say no when someone lovingly offers him a cup of hot and refreshing tea.