Thursday, April 03, 2014

On The Road

Spouses of candidates talk about their experiences during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign 

Photos: Usha Ramachandran; Damodaran Nambiar and PK Sreemathi with their grandson

By Shevlin Sebastian

He is spotlessly clean”

Says Usha, the wife of Union Minister Mullappally Ramachandran, who is standing as a UDF candidate from the Vadakara constituency

It is a familiar problem for Mullappally Ramchandran, Union Minister and UDF candidate for the Vadakara constituency. He needs money to finance his election campaign. “Ramachandran does not have an illegal income,” says his wife Usha. “He has been spotless throughout. Fortunately I have been working for many years.”

Usha had recently retired as Chief Manager (Law) of the Syndicate Bank, while working in Delhi. “For this year's campaign, I had to delve into my retirement benefits, to finance part of the campaign,” she says. However, like most wives, Usha does not go on the road, to meet voters. “I am not a political person,” she says. “But I try to ensure that things are comfortable when Ramachandran returns home.”

But the politician returns home late, usually after midnight even though the campaign concludes at 10 p.m. every day. “After that he will go and meet people in their houses, if there has been a death or a wedding,” says Usha. “They are happy when he comes visiting.”

Meanwhile, at home, visitors are also waiting to meet Ramachandran. “He is tired, but meets every single person before he has his bath and dinner,” says Usha. Astonishingly, Usha has her dinner along with him.

So how does she manage to stay awake? “I watch a lot of TV,” she says. “There is so much of political coverage going on.”

During the day, Usha goes to meet friends and relatives to canvas for votes. Once she met a Malayali family who lives in Dubai. “They told me that they had specifically returned to Kerala, so that they could vote for Ramachandran,” says Usha. “I felt very happy when I heard that.”

Asked about her husband's chances, Usha says, “People are aware of what he has done. He is a politician who is clean and continues to remain so. What more can he do? Keep your promises and do whatever you can in your constituency. The rest is for the people to decide.” 

A lot of women support her”

Damodaran Nambiar talks about his spouse Sreemathi Teacher, the LDF candidate for Kannur

When Sreemathi Teacher embarked on a career in politics, it was I who offered her support and encouragement,” says her husband, Damodaran Nambiar, a retired schoolteacher. “So, in her first campaign as a LDF candidate for the MP election at Kannur, I continue to help her although in a low-key manner.”

So there are no speeches or campaigning alongside the candidate. Instead, Damodaran talks to friends, colleagues, relatives, party workers, and local people. And the party workers, apart from his wife, are giving a feedback. “One complaint is the bad roads in the constituency,” says Damodaran. “Then there are the difficulties of getting the entire government pension. People are also having economic difficulties. Then there are problems of drinking water.”

Even though PK Sreemathi Teacher is pitched against the formidable K. Sudhakaran (UDF), Damodaran is optimistic that his wife will win. “A lot of women have praised her for the good work that she had done as Health Minister,” he says. “They also say she was a good MLA. All this will help Sreemathi Teacher. She is highlighting the lack of development in the constituency.”

As to whether he feels any tension about the result, Damodaran says, “No, I don't feel any nervousness at all. It is not about winning or losing, but taking part. However, the one benefit for Sreemathi Teacher is that she has been able to understand, at first-hand, all the problems that the people are facing in the constituency.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

No comments:

Post a Comment