The petite, beautiful woman dressed in a white silk saree smiled gratefully at the petty trader's wife as she accepted betel leaves and a coconut from her. No words were spoken, but both women understood that a promise had been sealed by the exchange.
All the trader's family and friends would vote for campaigner Malavika Hegde's father S M Krishna, Karnataka's chief minister, in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
Malavika is her father's chief campaigner in his constituency of Chamrajpet this time, as Krishna is busy touring Karnataka as his party's star campaigner. This soft-spoken wife of business tycoon Siddhartha Hegde, founder of the Café Coffee Day chain of cafes, who also owns stakes in many IT firms in Bangalore, pounds the pavements of Chamrajpet morning and evening.
She is accompanied by her younger sister Shambhavi Hingorani, wife of booze baron Vijay Mallya's stepbrother, as well as a couple of carloads of cousins and aunts. The women of Krishna's family walk down the narrow bylanes of Chamrajpet, surrounded by large groups of sloganeering male and female party workers, sporting jaunty Congress caps.
The sisters split into two groups and cover different bylanes. They are usually accompanied by Mamatha Devaraj, wife of sitting Congress MLA R V Devaraj, the man behind Krishna's decision to contest from this constituency.
The women seldom go up close to the voters. The noise of the campaign, with its lungpower, draws residents out of their homes. Party workers clear pathways for the sisters to the households. Often, Malavika and Shambhavi just stand outside the gates, their hands folded together in a namaste, and smile, while others do the talking. Sometimes, they hand out pamphlets.
Reportage and photograph: M D Riti
Also see: The woman Behind Anath Kumar