As senior BJP leader and five-time MP H N Ananth Kumar and former UIDAI chairman and Congress candidate Nandan Nilekani fight for the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, two women, known for their social activism, are making their political debut from this formidable battlefield. Nina P Nayak, AAP candidate, and Ruth Manor-ama from the JDS are positioning themselves as qualified alternatives to the two national parties in Bangalore South.
While Manorama has worked for Dalit women for decades, Nayak has chaired the Karnataka Child Rights Commission.
Manorama said national parties have not addressed the core issues concerning women in the areas of education, employment and safety. “They only bring up these sensitive issues during election time and forget about it afterwards. This is unfair to the women voters who rely on them,” she said. Manorama’s campaign also focuses on issues like the depleting water table in the city and corruption in the city’s civic departments.
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Though low-profile, the two women candidates represent the inclusion of grassroots social workers into mainstream politics. The AAP’s Nina P Nayak said that were it not for the party, she would never have contested the elections. “These so-called national parties are neck deep in scandals, corruption charges and controversies and indirectly they are putting our national image at stake,” she said. The political novice said a rigorous campaign has made her confident of winning the Lok Sabha seat. “The AAP has brought about a change in the mindset of the people. Voters are no longer interested in whether you are a national or an international figure. What matters to them is what you will do as a leader,” she said.
Nayak’s campaign is centered around traffic woes, waste segregation and other civic issues. She has also talked of empowering Residents Welfare Associations and setting up ward committees with designated helpline numbers. “This setup will help us directly connect with the people about their concerns and we can consult experts to seek solutions,” she said.