From poles to polls, it's a different turf for Pappachan

Having toured the country as a striker for the Kerala Police, the Thrissur resident is back on the road again, this time on election duty.

V O Shajimon and CV Pappachan

Assistant Commandant V O Shajimon (left) and Deputy Commandant C V Pappachan in Mumbai ahead of phase IV of polling for the Lok Sabha Elections. (Special Arrangement)   -  By special arrangement

Come Monday and fourth phase of voting begins. Police personnel from different districts of Maharashtra have arrived for election duty.

Among them are 640-plus cops from Kerala Police stationed in Mumbai and Thane. Having stopped over at Salem (Tamil Nadu) and Panaji (Goa) to begin with for election duty, the team will head to Punjab after their time in Mumbai before heading home to Kerala.

Special trains ferry the men in khaki from state to state with local police arranging logistics like accommodation and transportation. The policemen cook their own food. As for exercising their own franchise, postal ballot comes to the rescue.

"Our role is to make sure the guidelines issued by the Election Commission are followed. We work with the local police,”  said Deputy Commandant in India Reserve Battalion, C V Pappachan.

Interestingly, the 53-year-old is also a former India football international.

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“This is my first travel here wearing the uniform and the experience is fascinating so far. Football is popular in all these paces, I came here earlier to play," said the officer for whom the election tour will be his first trip to Goa, Mumbai and Punjab in a non-sporting capacity. 

The Kerala Police striker added: “When you come to a city like Mumbai for matches, sports-linked activity takes up so much time that visiting places beyond the football stadium and team hotel was not possible. Our focus was on the next match, next opponent rather than getting to know the locality, visiting famous spots or doing sightseeing.”

Pappachan, one of the crowd-pullers at the Cooperage ground during past visits with KP, followed a different agenda this time.

As one of two commanding officers (Assistant Commandant V O Shajimon being the other), the two met with Mumbai police counterparts as part a routine briefing on Saturday.

“We travel to different places in Mumbai where our state colleagues are staying and posted for duty. I also caught up with ex-India teammates with whom I became friends at the national camps. As part of Kerala Police side, we enjoyed matches against local teams Air India, Mahindras, Hotel Searock.”

Shajimon is a basketball player himself. The hoopster has toured Mumbai twice before with the KP basketball squad.

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Mid-interaction, Pappachan got nostalgic about the hype surrounding football during tours with KP.

“Goa, Mumbai and Punjab are football crazy places, with diehard fans and popular local teams. Clubs which promoted the sport in these regions have shut down, so the buzz for football is lower than before.”

He reeled out team names... Salgaocar, Dempo, Mahindras, JCT whose closure, for different reasons, led to events losing popularity.

“The Durand Cup, DCM, Rovers Cup, Bandodkar Trophy pulled in crowds, kept the interest alive. Now all efforts are directed towards the ISL," he pointed out.

Coming back to the elections, he felt there is a marked difference between the places on his poll tour map.

“There was no commotion in Goa, voting was peaceful. Mumbai also appears similar so far. From what I saw in the city, fences and walls are not covered with banners or candidates photos,” he said, comparing the two places to the election frenzy one gets to see in Kerala during polling season.

"Voters get involved with the elections, so come out in numbers on polling day despite the heat in many places," he said about the high voter turnout in Kerala (77.68 per cent average).

The temperature is rising each day in the city and districts, hopefully so will the voting percentage.

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