With just a day to go for the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018, the mood on the streets of Bengaluru was a mix of the everyday and the charged. In some parts of the city, it was business as usual, whereas in certain pockets, you'd see glimpses of the political frenzy that is to unfold.
Glimpses from the city:
Here, from left to right —
'Congress Booth': This man and I shared uncomfortably long eye contact. I thought he would say something, but he just looked on with a fixed smile, barely even blinking. It was almost as though only the two of us were present, although in reality, we were in the midst of a bustling street with at least 20-30 people stationed at the Congress centre.
'Beginner’s Choice': A lot of children were part of the political rallies, actively participating in whichever way they could. I saw one little girl reach out for a copy of the party proclamation letter in Kannada that was being distributed to everyone on the street. The little girl and I both had something in common — neither of us could read that letter.
'Social media': While listening to music on an online app, my playlist was interrupted by an announcement in Kannada asking me to vote for the BJP. This happened far too many times for a person to not freak out about it.
Below, 'Sibling Rivalry': Shot in a slum near Malleshwaram. The two children first caught my eye when the little sister posed for the camera and fired a salute in the lens’ direction. I was a little taken aback but really appreciated how children had zero inhibitions and did whatever seemed like fun at the moment. Soon enough, the girl was joined by her brother, wearing a BJP ‘gamcha’, who pushed her while she saluted for the camera, followed by a ‘point and laugh’ session.
'Politics over fruits': Shot near the high street in front of Mantri Mall, where there are a lot of fruit vendors. I was there during the early hours of the day when members of the working class grab a quick bite before work, and asked some of them their opinions on the elections. The elderly man on the left explained that the Congress is and will always be unbeatable in the state of Karnataka. All four people surrounding him seemed struck by the conviction in his tone.
'Party Office': Shot in front of the JD(S) party office in the area — I leaned out of an autorickshaw to get the shot, and the man being photographed gave me a puzzled look, as though he were questioning the logic of my actions.
'Men in Blue': Shot in the inner parts of Adugodi, Bengaluru. This team had hired a shop owned by a local Congress supporter and set up camp there. They looked ready for a battle they knew they'd win.
'Memoirs': It seemed a bit unusual to come across a portrait of Indira Gandhi, until I realised how much she's still revered in the south. Many of the people I spoke with are loyal to the Congress and think of the era when the Gandhis were in power as the ‘good times’.
'Malleshwaram High Street': Among the first photos I took in Bengaluru. I was excited about the prospect of seeing rallies and huge masses of people in orange and green. But when I got off the cab at the high street, I was shocked — where was everybody? Why weren’t people out and about? Then it came to me that people were at work; this was a working class neighbourhood. Living in Delhi, I was prepared for processions et al, but to my surprise, everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing — earning a living.
'Lotus Pond': Named for the abundance of lotuses in this frame. Shot at a BJP rally in Kengiri. Such enthusiasm at 3 o'clock in the afternoon — they really were committed to their leader.
'Juxtapose': Bengaluru was full of vibrant, unmissable Kannada movie posters. Of course, political parties couldn’t advertise themselves in the same way, except around their designated spots.
'Judgment Day': Women assess a movie poster in Malleshwaram; one of them seems none-too-impressed.
'High Street Shops': Work and shopping — the two things no election can influence or jeopardise. It was a busy Friday morning for vendors and customers on the high street.
'Election Blues': The main mode of canvassing — autorickshaws! They may not have been very well decorated, but the speakers within blared party-oriented promotional tunes just fine.
'Bengaluru’s Aesthetic': A vibrant movie poster exemplifies being in the right place, at the right time.
— All photos by Radha Datta