Bhupati, president, to Karnataka Women Writers’ Association
City Express shoots six election-related questions to distinguished Bangaloreans
Personally, which Lok Sabha election has been your most memorable so far? Why?
For me, it was the elections after Indira Gandhi won for the second time after the Emergency. I was a young girl studying in Chikmagalur at that time and Indira Gandhi had come down there too. Until then, I barely knew anything about elections or our political system. But that year, my father explained some of these things to me even though I was not eligible to vote yet.
Which election, in your view, has provided the biggest turning point in the history of India?
Honestly, I don’t think we’ve had such an election yet. There were times, when non-Congress leaders like V P Singh and Deve Gowda came into power. I was hopeful of change, but now I often wonder if we were better off with Congress in power. Let’s see what happens in the future.
What issues would you want the three MPs from Bangalore to address?
As a citizen and a doctor, I think that hospitals, basic amenities, education and environment should be in focus, keeping in mind the rapid rate of development of Bangalore and the population growth. Now, there are 4,000-odd Panchayat libraries in the State. Every village should have one, with books and at least one Kannada newspaper.
In a city like Bangalore, where women often have to work late, the issue of safety too has to be addressed. The police should be sensitised about gender issues so that they respect women and come forward to protect them when necessary. Also, in light of the recent incident involving a BMTC conductor, safe transport facilities for women too should be ensured. In Bangalore, the sex ratio is very low -- a mere 908 women to 1000 men. Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Bill has to be passed and doctors who are involved with female foeticide should be punished.
As part of Karnataka Women Writers Association, I think that Kannada as a language should be promoted. If you look at Tamil Nadu, children have to learn Tamil at school, whereas here you have other languages as options too.
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So many children grow up learning Kannada only at home, some of them not at all. When it comes to promoting and preserving Kannada, I think political leaders should look beyond party-identities and work together.
Further, women’s writings, the works of women, in Kannada, are often overlooked in favour of those by men, when it comes to deciding content of textbooks and other publication.
Do you think the Congress, BJP, JD(S) and AAP have chosen their Bangalore candidates well?
I’ve always believed that candidates should be educated and equal opportunity should be given to women. We haven’t seen enough of either, but this time with Nandini Alva and Ruth Manorama as well as Nandan Nilekani and C Narayanaswamy, I think voters have a good deal of choice.
Have you ever considered contesting elections? Which politicians do you know personally, and what do you think of their prospects?
Until now, I had always wanted to serve the society through other means. Now, I sometimes wonder if sincere people like us enter politics, we can make a difference. But before that happens the corruption-filled system has to become more conducive to people like us.
My husband U Bhupathi, is a former MLA and still part of the Congress. I’ve also know Nandini Alva as she’s an artiste and Ruth Manorama, thanks to her social work. But I have not been too closely associated with either. They have good profiles, but I think their chances of winning would be better if like-minded people like them got together and contested from a single party. Otherwise, chances are, votes will be divided and they can’t really do much.
What do you foresee in Delhi after the vote count on May 16?
The times of single party rule is past. There are too many parties. This year, AAP has joined, who knows what others will come up in the subsequent elections.
Right now, it looks like a 50-50 chance for UPA and NDA this time around.
(As told to Chetana Divya Vasudev)