Sweetey the dragonfly, Wayanad’s election mascot, to drive voters to polling booths

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The Red-rumped Hawklet (Epithemis Wayanadensis) that was discovered from the region
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As poll fever catches on, Kerala’s Wayanad constituency has got itself an election mascot — a dragonfly. The species Epithemis Wayanadensis or the Red-rumped Hawklet, discovered from the region, will be driving voters to polling booths. 

Named Sweetey after the title of the initiative, “Spreading Wayanad’s Election Enthusiasm through Epithemis Wayanadensis,” the dragonfly was chosen by the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation Programme (SVEEP). 

Initiated and conceptualised by Renu Raj, IAS, the district collector of Wayanad and her team, Sweetey aims not only to encourage voter participation but also to showcase the rich biodiversity of Wayanad. The larger goal is to integrate natural conservation efforts into electoral discussions. 

Sweetey, the election mascot

Sweetey, the election mascot
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

SVEEP has planned a series of programmes aimed at empowering citizens to exercise their voting rights, making new voters aware of the processes, hosting competitions among students and the general public to foster a culture of electoral literacy. And Sweetey will play a big role in these campaigns, according to the Government of Kerala’s portal. 

The dragonfly was discovered collectively by Vivek Chandran and Subin K Jose, researchers of the Environmental Science Department, at Christ College, Irinjalakkuda, geneticist Zeeshan A Mirza from Max Planck Institute for Biology in Germany and naturalist and wildlife photographer David Raju. “Mascots of Nature play a crucial role in raising awareness about biodiversity conservation and its intersection with electoral processes. Sweety symbolises the unique biodiversity of Wayanad and highlights the need for sustainable development practices within the electoral discourse,” says David, who is also the general manager of CGH Wayanad Wild, a property of CGH Earth at Lakkidi in Wayanad. 

In 2022, David had spotted a peculiar dragonfly, the Ruby-tailed Hawklet at the Pookode Lake in Wayanad. He later found the same dragonfly at the CGH Wayanad Wild property, but on close examination, found that there were distinct differences in morphology and genetic makeup. 

Along with the team of researchers, a DNA analysis was done to ascertain that the new species was different from the Ruby-tailed Hawklet. It was then described as the Red-rumped Hawklet.

Using mascots during elections is not a new thing. While Bengal Tiger ‘Baghu’ is creating awareness about voters’ rights in South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, in Coochbehar, it is a turtle that has been chosen as the mascot. Odisha’s Sambalpur district administration has announced ‘Voter Dada’ and ‘Voter Nani’ as election mascots. Dressed in traditional Sambalpuri attire, they will encourage people to exercise their franchise.

During the Legislative Assembly Election in 2021, Wayanad had Vote Kunhappan, a robot inspired by the Malayalam film, Android Kunjappan, as the star campaigner. Designed and developed by the faculty and students of the Government Engineering College, Mananthavady, the robot helped maximise voter turnout, especially in the district’s rural areas.


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