Ahead of polling for the Pune Lok Sabha seat on April 23, KANCHAN KSHIRSAGAR, an Independent candidate and the only woman to contest from the seat, is making door-to-door visits to understand voters’ concerns. The 46-year-old social worker tells MEGHA ROY that she wants to carry forward her social work.
Why did you decide to contest the Lok Sabha elections?
I wanted to carry forward my social work, especially on women’s issues. Funds and schemes often do not reach the most vulnerable sections of society. As the people’s representative, it will be my duty to ensure that they are not deprived of them. I credit my family for providing the support required to contest the elections. I have five daughters, the eldest of whom is a social worker. My second daughter is pursuing a law degree, and the rest are in school.
Tell us about your social work.
Having earned a masters in social work, I established the Panchatarka Mahila Vikas Sanstha in 2004. Since then, I have started self-help groups for women and am engaged in family counselling for women, youth, and addicts among the economically disadvantaged. To ensure that slum children complete their education, I have helped enrol them in schools and hostels.
If elected, what are the steps that you plan to take?
Firstly, I will open a counselling centre in each slum, to give a voice to the vulnerable sections of society. Further, I want to make education accessible to the economically marginalised. Many children in slums grow up with numerous obstacles to their education, such as alcoholic fathers and a lack of resources. Many children have to stop their education due to these issues, which I intend to address. Besides, I want to remedy issues faced by women in the domestic sphere.
What do you think are your chances of victory?
Overwhelmingly, I see people disgruntled with parties because of false promises that they have made, and with measures such as demonetisation and issues such as unemployment. With the support of the people I have worked with, I think it is possible for an Independent candidate to be elected.
How do you feel about being the only woman candidate from the Pune seat?
I am glad I am contesting but more women filing nominations would have been symbolic of our progress. I hope to see as many women as there are men in the next elections.