Malappuram: As the campaign to the Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll heads to a close on Monday a sneak peek on the culinary habits of key leaders becomes essential.
Top leaders of all the three major political fronts – the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance - were camping in the district, known for its penchant for fish delicacies.
In Malappuram, as in many parts of Malabar, fish curry is a delicacy that would invariably chart its course to the serving bowls to the lingering delight of the connoisseurs of taste.
And we are not talking about lunch or dinner, but even for breakfast, fish curry would be served without fail.
But our political masters may not have had a sumptuous feast this time, it seems.
Make no mistake, Malappuram did not hesitate to extend the lingering warmth of its hospitality.
Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy, a workaholic, is not known to chase the culinary delights.Even if he is at his native place Puthupally, only the breakfast would be on time. The rest of the time Oommen Chandy either skips or has his food served for him late, with his hectic schedule playing spoilsport.
Now, his hosts of Malappuram factored in the former CM's nature and apparently came up with a formula. The food was always kept ready in the vehicle in which he was touring the constituency. Chandy had no option but to oblige to the gracious hospitality.
Chandy is now observing lent and hence food is vegetarian with 'puttu and kadala' as his choice for breakfast. For lunch, it is a little rice and vegetables and at the dining table, rice gives way to chappatis.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan is known for his spartan way of life. The bachelor who leads the saffron outfit in Kerala is a strict vegetarian, which is no surprise considering his party's school of thought.
Kummanam mostly has his food from houses where he stays, which is mostly that of party workers. Kummanam feels that staying at houses of party workers also gives him an opportunity to get a feel of the layman's issues.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala is also a veggie. But in earlier days, he says it was difficult to even get vegetarian food. Now that has changed, he says. And the many vegetarian joints that has sprouted across Malappuram would vouch for that.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran knows very well about Malappuram's warmth through its variety of delicacies laced with affection.But the CPI leader rues that this time he couldn't indulge in culinary delights. Due to health issues, Kanam is dieting and so a strict, bland menu awaits the CPI boss. Better luck next time.
NCP state president Uzhavoor Vijayan vouches for Malappuram's repository of food varieties. Like his penchant for speeches laced with satire, he is a staunch votary of the district's hospitality. Vijayan is a staunch fan of football and “does not hesitate to grab the biriyani offered even by political rivals” in the IUML.
CPM veteran V.S. Achuthanandan, who took a dig at UDF candidate Kunhalikutty by extorting him to vote for the LDF candidate Faisal if the former wanted to eat beef, is also a strict disciplinarian when it comes to eating habits.At 94, perhaps that is the secret of the maverick leader's relentless energy.