Signs of the times! Decades-old graffiti offer a glimpse into past elections, symbols


Kalamassery/Paravur (Ernakulam): The observant eyes seldom miss the poll campaign message on the wall of an old building in Edappally market. The writing, done using a mixture of leaves and brick powder 64 years ago, has withstood the passage of time and many elections that followed. 

The building, now owned by the Edappally Church, had housed the Youth Congress Office in 1957, when  Congress candidates A V Joseph contested to the Assembly, and A M Thomas to the Lok Sabha.

The younger generation may frown at ‘kalappetti’, i.e. ‘a pair of bullocks carrying a yoke' as a poll symbol. In 1957 the Congress had contested polls on this official poll symbol. The wall painting at the Edappally building was one such. 

The Edappally area was then part of the Kunnathunadu constituency. The result of the Congress campaign was mixed: Thomas won a second consecutive term; Joseph did not make it to the Assembly.

Joseph had represented Kunnathunadu in the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly in 1948 and was the District Congress Committee president for 15 consecutive years. Incidentally, the first-ever Assembly election after the formation of Kerala was held in 1957. 

The mark on the bridge 

Much water has flown under the bridge at Perumbadanna, Paravur, ever since the Left-backed Independent, Justice Subramaian Potty, contested the 1989 Lok Sabha polls. Though he could not win against K V Thomas of the Congress, his poll symbol, ‘Peacock’, painted on one of the beams of the bridge, still catches the eye of passers-by, 32 years later.

Time, however, has taken a toll. The candidate’s name, written in red, has faded away. The campaign message also reflects a once busy waterway that passed under the bridge. The campaign writing was meant to catch the attention of boatmen who had then taken the water route.

Old timers recalled that the painters etched the sign and candidate name after placing a bench on a horizontal scaffold made of areca trees held together by ropes. 

The Congress had contested under the symbol mentioned in the Edappally graffiti between 1952 and 1969, before it got the ‘cow and suckling calf’ symbol in 1971. The present symbol, ‘open palm’ of the right hand, has been representing the party since 1977.

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