Will show the world what this ‘rasoyi wali’ can do, says BJP’s Davanagere candidate Gayithri Siddeshwara

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Will show the world what this ‘rasoyi wali’ can do, says BJP’s Davanagere candidate Gayithri Siddeshwara

Bengaluru: When the BJP announced its candidate for the prestigious Davanagere Lok Sabha seat, political greenhorn Gayithri Siddeshwara, wife of four-time MP GM Siddeshwara, the Opposition Congress quickly brushed her candidature aside.

Veteran leader Shamanur Shivashankaraapa remarked that Gayithri Siddeshwara was fit to be in the kitchen only. The sexist remark stirred a debate at the national level. Expressing solidarity with Gayithri Siddeshwara, international badminton star Saina Nehwal lashed out at the chauvinistic comment.

Gayithri Siddeshwara who is on the last leg of campaigning told IANS that she has taken the jibe in a sporting spirit and she will show the world what “this rasoyi wali” can do. She underlined that people called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a ‘chaiwala’ and he showed what a ‘chaiwala’ could do. “I take inspiration from him,” she says.

Her dreams include getting a GI tag for the famous ‘Davanagere butter dosa’ and establishing a cargo airport in Davanagere. Excerpts from the interview.

This is your first election. How has your political journey been so far?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: Politics is not new for me. For 30 years I have been working behind the scenes. Now, I have come to the forefront. Earlier, I was contributing to the country in my own manner, now the central and state leadership has given me a direct opportunity to contribute to the country. I feel I am ready to serve. Earlier, I used to seek votes for my father-in-law late G. Mallikarjunappa, and my husband, sitting BJP MP GM Siddeshwara. My father-in-law visited all the villages and had a connection with the voters. He used to take the names of 20 to 25 leaders of each of the 1,800 villages in the constituency. My husband followed in his father’s footsteps. Now it is my turn.

What is the best response to the “rasoyi wali” comment by Congress veteran Shamanur Shivashankarappa?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: In the initial stages there will be challenges. The baby will not start walking immediately after birth. The comment was made when I had just begun my campaigning and was seeking votes. Now, villagers are complimenting me on my speeches. I want to say one thing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was called a ‘chaiwala’ in the beginning. They challenged how a ‘chaiwala’ could become the PM and rule the country. He proved his might. For me as well, they branded me as a person only good at cooking. I can also be ‘rasoi wali’ who can achieve big things. In this matter Prime Minister Modi is an inspiration. There are women in their homes too. It seems they don’t cook. The bond of love and affection is created when a mother cooks and serves food to her children and the family. They don’t understand all that. They don’t have that culture. Our culture is Indian culture and the Congress leaders follow foreign culture. I serve food to my children and those who come down from abroad also prefer to be served food by me. I also served food along with the servants to our party workers who visited our residence and they acknowledged it. Now, it has come in handy as people say they are obliged to give their vote as they were served food by me.

At the age of 69 years, you are campaigning all through the day and till late at night. How do you manage?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: I have taken it as a challenge. Earlier, I used to get up at 6.30 a.m., feed the cows, monitor the work done by the maids, and do Yoga. Now, I wake up by 4:30 a.m., do Yoga, and start campaigning after breakfast. As I do Yoga, my spirit remains the same.

When the ticket was announced, your candidature faced stiff resistance from within the BJP. How are you managing the internal differences?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: There is nothing wrong in asking for a ticket. If you are fortunate, you will get a ticket. If people fail to get a ticket, they will contest as Independent candidates and this is a normal phenomenon. The survey conducted by the BJP revealed that only GM Siddeshwara could win as the Shamanur Shivashankarappa family was ready to contest the election for the Congress. They had calculated that if they took the MP seat, the whole of Davanagere would be in their control. Preparations in this regard were made year-round. The party chose to field me as the Congress was pitching in Prabha Mallikarjun from the Shamanur Shivashankarappa family. I never dreamt that I would get a ticket and I would contest the election.

What are your promises to voters?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: To restart stalled projects, create an industrial corridor in the constituency, and develop tourist and historical places. IT parks would also be extended. Our Davanagere butter dosa is quite famous and I want to get a GI tag for it. I want to bring a cargo airport to Davanagere. If I get an opportunity, I will do all this.

Are you experiencing male chauvinism while dealing with different leaders?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: All leaders are cooperating. Our BJP MLAs might have lost the election, but they have a grip over the masses. My husband Siddeshwara is there. The former MLAs all see me as an elderly sister and I am taking them along.

How sure are you of your victory?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: I am 100 percent confident of my victory. I have been touring villages and the voter response is overwhelming. I can see that there is great support for me.

You are facing a formidable opponent hailing from an influential family…

Gayithri Siddeshwara: The voters will decide. I will go by the voters’ verdict.

How do you see MCA student Neha Hiremath’s murder case?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: Everyone has opposed the Neha case. All women condemn it. The incident showed that there is no safety for women under this government. Within two days of this incident, in Channagiri town two young men were stabbed in a communal clash. In Gangavathi town, a youth was stabbed for raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans.

How do you view these developments?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: It means there is no safety under this government. All these incidents happened in a week. In Shivamogga they took out a procession holding sharp-edged weapons. We went there and women poured out their grief and stated that Hindus have no protection. The Neha case has been dropped already, and now the Congress is focussing on the Prajwal Revanna case. The development has been given a political colour. Exploitation of any woman is condemnable.

How was the experience of sharing a platform with Prime Minister Modi?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: I consider myself lucky that I was able to share the stage with Prime Minister Modi. It happened in Shivamogga, my native place. The second time I stood with the Prime Minister in Davanagere city. After his visit, I am sure of my victory.

How is your husband viewing your progress as a politician?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: He has not seen me going outside in this manner. He used to hear about my treatment of his supporters and he always respected me.

What is your appeal to voters?

Gayithri Siddeshwara: For the safety of our country and protection of our women, for women’s empowerment, the development of farmers, exploited and the poor, for developed India, to strengthen our economy, our vote should be given to the BJP and Prime Minister Modi.

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