Saturday, October 16, 2010

A middle-class attempt


Lalitha Unnikrishnan, a post-graduate in economics, is standing as an independent candidate, supported by the LDF, from the Ravipuram division for the Cochin Corporation elections

By Shevlin Sebastian

A couple of weeks ago, when Kochi was lashed by heavy rains, Lalitha Unnikrishnan received a call from a Communist Party worker near the Atlantis area. When she went there she was astonished to find several houses under water.

“I remember entering the home of a 54-year-old woman,” says Lalitha. “All the equipment had been spoiled.” These included the computer, refrigerator, sofa, cupboards, and plywood shelves. “They would have to spend a lot of money to buy the appliances once again,” says Lalitha. “The woman was crying uncontrollably.” As expected, the residents vented their anger at the councillor, David Parambithara, for not solving the problem.

But David defends himself. “There was so much rain this year, there was nothing I could do,” he says. “Apart from Ravipuram, water entered the houses in many places, like Fort Kochi, and throughout Kerala.” However, in an earlier interview to Express, David had waxed eloquent about how he had solved the drainage problem in the Ravipuram division. Maybe, it is time for Lalitha to provide a permanent solution.

A quiet, soft-spoken woman, Lalitha is a post-graduate in economics. However, in Maharaja’s college, she had some experience of politics. She is a former Vice-Chairman of the college. Today, she runs an English-training institute on Chittoor Road. In her spare time, she has been a volunteer at eye and medical camps, conducted by voluntary organisations like the Rotary Club. Since she is well-known in Ravipuram, when the seat became reserved for women, the LDF approached her to stand on their behalf. Well-wishers and friends also urged her.

“My husband was also very supportive and told me that this would be a great chance for me to serve society, and I agreed,” she says. Lalitha is contesting as an Independent, but supported by the LDF. As a first timer, is she nervous? “Not at all,” she replies. “On the other hand, I am getting an opportunity to meet so many people. I have a better idea about the many problems that affect the area.”

Apart from the usual problems, like bad roads, that afflict all divisions, Lalitha says that the crematorium is in bad shape. “I will definitely refurbish it if I win,” she says.

Long-time resident, Parvathy Menon, who lives on Old Thevara Road, spoke about the presence of too many stray dogs. “The waste disposal system is in bad shape,” she says. “I wish many more trees are planted.”

Parvathy says she is happy that somebody like Lalitha, well-educated and from the middle class, is contesting the elections. “We need such type of candidates in politics,” says Parvathy. “My only request to the winner: she should understand the problems that we are facing.”

The Ravipuram division has 3300 votes. It is flanked by Pallimukku in the north, Thevara in the south, the railway line in the east and Foreshore Road on the west.

And Lalitha has been campaigning in the area for the past three weeks. Many people know her well because she is the daughter of the late K.P. Anandaraman Master, who had set up the popular Wisdom College, a private tutorial institution in the 1950s on Chittoor Road.

“Several residents are my father’s former students and they treat me with respect,” she says. “They have the conviction that I can bring about a significant improvement.”

But there are opponents to overcome along the way. The UDF is represented by Saumini Jane, while the BJP has put up Baby (Lakshmi Teacher). Interestingly, Saumini and Lalitha are friends, and live on the same road. “In the previous election, the UDF won by a wafer-thin margin,” says Lalitha. “But this time, I am very optimistic.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

No comments:

Post a Comment