NEW DELHI: Actor-turned-politician Sumalatha Ambareesh, who made history by becoming the first independent woman candidate to enter the Lok Sabha from Karnataka, envisions a House that comprises 50 per cent female members.
"We have debated a lot about providing 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha. But why not 50 per cent? I would love to see half of the members in the House to be women," the MP from Mandya seat of Karnataka said.
Equating her first day in the lower house to that of first day at school or college, she mused that she was learning to get acquainted with the formalities of the House.
"My first time at Parliament was like the first day at school or college. It was a mix of nervousness and excitement. The learning curve however is exciting," she said.
Even though she says that there were various challenges being an independent candidate, the MP asserted that it freed her from the burden of towing the line of a particular party and could raise the issues of her constituency independently.
Talking about raising the issues prevalent in the parliamentary constituency she represents, she said revival of the lakes is on her priority.
"During my campaign, I saw that many lakes have dried up. Women have to walk several miles to fill water to meet their daily requirement. I have already met the Jal Shakti Minister and have submitted a memorandum in this regard.
"Mandya is a sugarcane growing belt. The farmers are not getting proper price for their produce; I want to raise this issue on priority. Connectivity and road infrastructure is another area of concern, which I would like to bring the government's attention to," she said.
The 55-year-old, who lost her husband, Kannada actor-politician Ambareesh, last year reminisces that her plunge into politics was "purely accidental".
"It was my husband who had nurtured this constituency. His supporters turned up in large numbers at his funeral, which touched me and I decided to contest. I did not care if I won or lost, I had to respect my husband's memory."
Since he husband was a Congress leader, Sumalatha had sought the party ticket. However, the Congress decided to field Nikhil Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy's son due to the coalition with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
"It was a long battle to victory, as I was contesting against the Chief Minister's son. The eight legislators in the parliamentary constituency were also from the ruling party of the state. A vitriolic campaign was launched against me and I was called an outsider, entering the political fray just months before the elections," she said.
The MP however, said that she received support from unexpected quarters as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not field a candidate against her.
"I received immense support from my people and I am grateful for that. I defeated my rival by 1.2 lakh votes in my debut election. I was disillusioned after my husband's death, but this win has given me immense hope to carry my husband's legacy forward."
Though an independent candidate, Sumalatha expects support from the BJP government in the Centre in resolving the issues of her constituency.
She said that she would give her support to the parties based on the issues. "I will support the decisions that benefit the people of my constituency as well as Karnataka."
An actor by profession, she has worked in over 200 films in all four South Indian languages as well as Hindi. "Going back to the film industry would depend upon the kind of projects I receive. But serving my people comes first and I want to concentrate on that right now," Sumalatha concluded.