Millennium Post

Spouses spice up election campaign

The sun isn’t showing any mercy but Shilpa Shettar wears a broad smile as she briskly walks on the dusty streets of Hubli. Her husband, the chief minister, is busy touring across the state to campaign for votes. And so she does her bit, concentrating on Jagadish Shettar’s constituency and canvassing for votes. The better halves have swung into action in a big way for the 5 May assembly election in Karnataka wooing voters on behalf of their husbands. And, they are drawing good crowds too.

Braving the scorching heat, the candidates’ wives are largely concentrating on women voters who constitute over 45 per cent of electorate in any assembly segment.

Shilpa was the first among them to launch the campaign for Shettar. ‘He can tour the constituency only in the last few days. By then, I have to cover all areas,’ Shilpa says, adding Hubli-Dharwad central constituency has a large minority population and women feel shy talking to men. ‘So , I am personally managing my husband's campaign in this area and have been holding several allwomen meetings, padyatras (marches) and door-to-door campaigns to understand their problems,’ Shilpa says.

Meenakshi, wife of Congress candidate Krishna Byregowda, begins her day early in the morning for electioneering in the far-flung areas of Byatarayanpura constituency. Interestingly, Meenakshi has her own separate plans for the days. In one room of the election office, she also undertakes separate meetings with the campaigners. ‘I have a big team which includes my in-laws and brother who manage my campaign. I have encircled some specific areas where I meet women, youths and old people. I start at 7am and campaigning goes on for as long as 10 in the night,’ she says.

Giving a sentimental touch to the electioneering, Bhavani Revanna, daughter-in-law of former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, applies vermilion (kumkum) to the women voters and asks for votes sporting a wide smile on her face as she campaigns for her husband and JD(S) leader H D Revanna in Holenarsipura constituency of Hassan district.

For Lakshmi, BSR(Congress) founder B Sriramulu’s wife, electioneering is a different ball game. ‘I am a totally apolitical person,’ she says, munching on a quick breakfast, before starting out to campaign in the villages of Bellary. Former minister M P Renukacharya’s wife Suma conscientiously makes a list of issues raised by voters to sound out her husband. She feels the women in her husbands constituency open up to her and talk on a variety of issues.

‘I really don't have time to talk to my children. My campaign schedule is jampacked with door-to-door meetings, public gatherings and padyatras. My mother is taking care of the family,’ she says. For many wives, politics isn't their cup of tea and they would gladly let their husbands do the politicking. But in poll season, campaigning is a duty they feel bound to do. While some bring in the crowds, some others are charting out their own course with a group of women. Like the spouses of ministers Umesh V Katti or Murgesh Nirani. They don’t want any share of the limelight. They have confined themselves to door-to-door campaigns and steadfastly shunned any speeches or street corner meetings.
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