I made these pictures in March 2014 while observing Shashi Tharoor on his campaign trail in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, where the diplomat-turned-politican is making a bid for re-election.
In the last five years, Tharoor’s life has changed dramatically. He has had to overcome painful losses both in his public and private life. Watching him brave the punishing Kerala heat and being sheperded along by party workers on his campaign route, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew that this was what he had signed up for when he decided to enter politics five years ago.
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Tharoor on a junction visit in Thiruvananthapuram. A typical junction visit involved visiting commercial establishments around a traffic junction on foot, and asking the people to vote for the ‘kaipathi’, which means ‘open palm’ in Malayalam.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy (fourth from right) greets Tharoor (second from right) at the launch of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s (KPCC) online website and social media initiative. Social media has been a double-edged sword for Tharoor, as despite having nearly two million followers, he has found himself in hot water with the Congress party for several controversial tweets.
Nitya Rao is an independent Indian photojournalist based in Boston. She is interested in documenting political and human interest stories, and is currently traveling across India to capture the mood of the country as it conducts its 16th Lok Sabha election. Her aim is to create a traveling exhibit, which will illustrate the changing face of politics in India. Nitya has worked as a reporter for Outlook, The Indian Express and Thomson Reuters, and holds a Masters degree in Photojournalism from Boston University. To find out where she’s heading next follow her @niftyindex