Silence speaks louder for these off-beat candidates

Silence speaks louder for these off-beat candidates

Come April 18, around 100 candidates - most of them independents - will test their electoral fortunes from three constituencies in Bengaluru.

Among them are a telecom engineer turned cab-driver and Swiggy delivery boy, an activist who hasn’t spoken a word for 14 years and a retired policeman who once combed the dense forests of Kadambur Hills in search of forest brigand Veerappan.

Jenifar J Russel worked as a telecom engineer since 2001, before choosing politics over a high-paying job. He worked as a cab driver and later as a Swiggy executive delivering food.

“When I joined Uber and crisscrossed the city, I learnt a lot about its various problems. Since I wanted to delve deeper into these issues to understand them, I started working as a delivery boy and interacted with thousands of voters,” says Russel, contesting from Bangalore Central. Social worker Ambrose D’Mello has not uttered a word for almost 15 years now and uses a slate to communicate. This is the ninth election for Ambrose since taking a vow of silence as part of his fight against against commercialisation of water in 2005.

His current struggle is against demonetisation, as reflected in his affidavit and his lone placard which has the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes pinned to its edges. Ambrose, who sells books to eke out a living, reveals that he uses Tamate - a handheld percussion instrument - to gather people in Bangalore South constituency.

Venkatesh Setty, 74, the oldest among all candidates contesting polls from Bangalore North constituency, says that he was once deployed in the hunt for Veerappan. Setty, who retired as a sub-inspector in 2004, was part of the Special Task Force constituted to nab the brigand.

This is the third time since 2014 he is contesting elections from the constituency. “Victory or defeat is immaterial, as I will work for the people in the region even if I lose,” he said.

Another contestant in Bangalore South is Manohar Iyer, a techie who quit a high-paying job in Malaysia. The grandson of former Janata Dal MP V S Krishna Iyer, he moved to India six months ago.