Naveen Nair CNN-IBN, Tuesday , May 02, 2006 at 19:09
Manjeshwaram (Kerala): Twenty-six-year-old Bashir Ahmed is a school dropout, but he's an extremely busy person these days.
It's elections times in Kerala and politicians are looking for him. His expertise: he can speak Kannada.
200 meters from the last railway station in Kerala, in the Manjeshwaram constituency, the culture and language of Kerala and Karnataka are intertwined so much so that its very difficult to say where Kerla ends and Karnataka starts.
Manjeshwaram is dominated by Kannada speaking voters. Here Malayalam has taken a backseat and Kannada has become the language of the campaign.
Politicians having sensed this are adding a new Kannada flavour to their campaign in Kerala.
Says Bashir, who campaigns for the LDF, "Over 60 per cent of people in Manjeshwaram speak Kannada , even the MLA who got elkected to the Kerala Assembly took his oath in Kannada. Thats the importance of the language here."
Having campaigned earlier also, Bashir knows what he's talking about. In Manjeshwaram, Kannada rules.
From the local toddy shop to temples, Kannada can be seen on billboards everywhere.
Bashir thinks his presence will help the LDF immenesly.
And LDF is not the only party campaigning in Kannada. Every one is doing it.
Manjeshwaram's sittting MLA's manifesto has a Kannada copy.
MLA UDF, Cherkullam Abdullah says, "Kannada is the predominant language here and Kannada speaking people are most important. UDF has done so much for them and I'm sure that they will favour us."
Only time will tell who favours whom, but the eventual winner will sure have the backing of Kannada speaking voters.
(With inputs from Abhirr VP)