It’s fight your own battle for Karnataka’s women candidates

Bangalore, April 19 (Inditop) The number of women candidates for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka going to polls later this month is dismal – a mere 11 as compared to 418 men. Four of the women belong to national parties and except for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, the going is tough for the remaining 10.

But the women say they are made of stern stuff and are bravely fighting their male opponents.

Margaret Alva and Tejaswini Gowda belong to the Congress, J. Shantha to BJP and Radha Sundaresh, to the Communist Party of India (CPI). The rest are independents.

Shantha is comparatively lucky. Her brother B. Sriramulu, health and family welfare minister in Karntaka’s first BJP government, is in charge of the campaign to see his sister, a young mother and first time contestant, enter Lok Sabha.

Sriramulu enjoys huge clout in the government and the party because he is a close aide of mining barons of Bellary district, G. Janaradhana Reddy and his brother G. Karunakara Reddy, both of whom are also ministers.

Janardhana Reddy holds the tourism portfolio and Karunakara Reddy heads the revenue ministry. The third Reddy brother G. Somashekara Reddy is also a member of the state assembly.

Sriramulu and the Reddy brothers are out to ensure Shantha’s victory from Bellary which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Shantha is candid. “People are identifying me as Sriramulu’s sister and it will help me win,” said the shy home-maker.

Bellary has earned the dubious distinction of recording the highest number of poll code violations and seizure of money and liquor in the state.

In contrast, Margaret Alva and Tejaswini Gowda are yet to see their top state or national leaders campaigning for them in their constituencies, Uttara Kannada and Bangalore Rural respectively.

Bellary, Uttara Kannada and Bangalore Rural are among the 17 constituencies going to polls on April 23.

CPI does not have much of a presence in Karnataka. Hence no national leader of the party has come to canvass for Sundaresh in Udupi-Chikmagalur seat so far. Since voting in this constituency along with 10 others is on April 30, there is a possibility of top leaders visiting the place.

Alva and Gowda are not worried they have to fight the battle on their own.

“I have the support of voters. People are more important and they will decide whom they should elect. Party workers at the grassroots level are making sure that I win,” Alva told IANS.

Gowda spoke in similar terms.

Alva’s choice was a surprise as she was sacked as general secretary a few months back for claiming that Congress tickets were sold during the May 2008 assembly elections in Karnataka.

Her main rival is BJP’s Anant Kumar Hegde who is seeking re-election.

Gowda’s electoral debut in 2004 was a dream run for her as she defeated former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular president H.D. Deve Gowda in the then Kanakapura constituency. It has become Bangalore Rural after re-drawing of constituencies.

The victory of the journalist-turned-politician was attributed to her mentor D.K. Shivakumar, who is now working president of Karnataka Congress unit. Their relations have soured and the protege had charged the one-time mentor of working to deny her renomination as he wanted his brother to be fielded.

“I am the choice of the high command and I am set to win again,” Gowda told IANS. This time she faces Deve Gowda’s son and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. He is a legislator from Ramanagaram which is part of the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency.

BJP has put up C.P. Yogeshwar, a Kannada film actor-producer and realtor, who crossed over to the party from Congress recently.