Indian Express

Proud of son’s sacrifice, she won’t make it a poll issue

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Kamal Kanta Batra. Lalit Kumar Kamal Kanta Batra. Lalit Kumar

Her family car is parked at the gates of the ‘budget’ hotel. Her posters on a hired mini-tempo show signs of Kamal Kanta Batra’s Lok Sabha poll campaign.

The mother of Kargil hero and Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain Vikram Batra is the Aam Admi Party (AAP) candidate contesting Himachal Pradesh’s high-profile Hamirpur constituency.

She knows she is in no competition with Anurag Thakur, BJP MP and president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. She is not interested in assailing Congress candidate Rajinder Rana, an independent MLA who quit his assembly seat to contest against Thakur.

What she talks about is Arvind Kejriwal’s agenda and basic issues of the country. She tries to keep what happened to her son out of politics.

“I am not in the contest to score a point or play up public emotions, pump in money and use dirty tactics to win. My mission is to serve society. A society that gave me so much respect and honour… as mother of a martyr. If people think I can be of some use in solving their problems, wiping their tears and becoming part of development, I am ready for the job,” she says.

She understands she is powerful politicians with resources and money. Her husband G L Batra on her side chalking out strategies, the 66-year-old retired schoolteacher admits she does not have funds to compete with politicians.

“The party gave us a very small amount, a few friends helped and the rest is our own savings. We can’t afford to deploy vehicles, hire men, use publicity material, posters, flags and banners. It’s just man to man contact and small corner meetings. No big rallies, roadshows and no display of strength. It’s a campaign based on ethics and issues…,” she says.

She communicates with war widows, families of retired and serving soldiers and martyrs with equal ease. Hamirpur has over a lakh families of soldiers and retired jawans, in army and paramilitary forces. The women talk to her freely and discuss their problems.

Says Batra, “I don’t talk about my son’s sacrifice. It’s something a mother of a martyr feels proud of and can’t make an issue of in vote-politics. But when I introduce myself, emotions overflow and people recognise me as Capt Vikram Batra’s mother. It’s a big honour”.

She is sad no political party is taking about real issues, corruption, Jan Lokpal, price rise, unemployment, internal and external security and morale of jawans. She believes Arvind Kejriwal has given a new hope to clean up politics and empower the common man. The 2014 election will give AAP a major say in government formation, feels the party.

“India needs a strong leader to address basic issues and provide a corruption-free, scam-free government,” says Batra.

Contrary to hopes that AAP’s presence in Himachal Pradesh would give a new dimension to polls, the Hamirpur fight seems to be between a Modi-riding BJP and the Congress.

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