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Maithreyi Nadapana, a Loksatta party worker and mother of two, contested for the BBMP elections in Bangalore, marking the beginning of an impressive political career. She talks to us about the ups and downs of women standing for elections.
Women in India have been extensively making their presence felt in various fields. Be it the corporate world, public sector or the service industry; women are the very face of excellence. Even then it is not a very common sight to find women taking part in active politics. The nation that gave the world a very well-known female Prime Minister doesn’t have a lot of women in politics. The main reason is the general public perception among the masses that politics is a dreadful world where you have to deal with a wide range of people; and that being a woman, it is not safe.
That is where trail blazers like Maithreyi Nadapana are setting a fine example by shunning the public perception and answering the call of change. She was the Loksatta Party’s candidate for the BBMP elections in Bengaluru. Although she did not win, she created quite a buzz by contesting in the first place, given that she had started as a party worker with three years of experience under her belt.
A mother of two, she juggles between responsibilities of home and the party. During the election, she campaigned by night and also found time to manage her personal life. As a party worker, she has worked extensively for safety of women and children in her city. Although she is new to politics, her passion for the welfare of people makes her stand apart from all the candidates of other major parties.
Women’s Web spent some time chatting with her to learn from her journey in active politics.
Being a woman in politics; how has been your experience so far in mobilizing a party and being a powerful leader?
Maithreyi Nadapana: I don’t find myself any different than my male counterparts. I have a strong back-up of family members who have always encouraged me to pursue my passion. Along with that I have very cooperative neighbours whose pro-active support has been a boon. As I was already aware of all the challenges that would lie ahead of me, I’d already been preparing myself. I often encounter people though who voice their concern regarding my safety but my drive to work for the people acts as my fuel.
I feel as women are more organised and better planners they garner more support. Our professional conduct and efficient approach inspire a lot of people; hence I’d want to inspire more women to enter politics. It is disheartening to watch women being used as proxy candidates and there is hardly any female representation at the level where I am contesting. Ultimately my goal is not just to win elections but to be a role model and make a difference in the life of a common citizen. A lot people want to notice changes but not many are ready to be the change agents. I want to inspire people to collectively work for the nation, starting from the local level.
What have been the ups and downs of contesting an election?
Maithreyi Nadapana: My initial months had been the most testing. I prepared my family with the help of my Mother who had always been my pillar of strength however; I lost her some time back. That had been a major blow to me but I continued my work by my family on my side. Going outdoor campaigning late at night is definitely demanding but when you notice people acknowledging your work then it is totally worth it. When I notice my drive getting recognized and also inspiring others in the process then I feel like a catalyst for change; which is always a very rewarding experience.
Would you be willing to contest again?
Maithreyi Nadapana: I might contest again as I am passionate about working for children. I feel they are very vulnerable and must be given the safe environment which nurtures them. If the party’s the manifesto and causes they want to work for would resonate with me then I will go ahead. For me working for the people is more important than anything else.
Does a BBMP election give a candidate more experience in terms of dealing with issues closer to the ground/local people?
Maithreyi Nadapana: Yes, definitely! You are more in touch with the immediate neighbourhood and smaller areas. You get an opportunity to take stock of the situation by personally meeting the people. This gives you a chance to be more in touch with the local issues. The people relate to you more when you meet them on one-on-one basis, which instills more faith in them and they openly share their concerns. I had also taken a course called BCLIP or Bangalore Civic Leadership Incubation Program in order to understand the working of the BBMP.
How does a woman go about running for elections?
Maithreyi Nadapana: Associating with a party is beneficial rather than contesting as an independent. Start working towards elections at least a year before. Build your supporter /volunteer base. All these are important to fight the money, power and caste factors that influence most elections. I have spent only a fifth of the limit set by the election commission. Don’t be shy to ask for vote or for donation. Be active on social media and keep public informed on your activities.
I am a dreamer with an irrepressible zest for life. I aspire to be a
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