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Lok Sabha elections 2024 | Young woman law graduate vs 4-time BJP MP in Bagalkot fuels excitement over 'people's verdict'

Samyukta, contesting in Lok Sabha elections for the first time, remains undaunted over being pitched against the senior BJP leader, a seasoned politician.
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 07:47 IST
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 07:47 IST

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Bengaluru: The Lok Sabha campaign scene in Karnataka's Bagalkot has spiced up with a 30-year-old woman law graduate from the grand old party taking on a BJP MP seeking a straight fifth term.

Samyukta Patil, daughter of Agricultural Produce and Sugar Minister Shivanand Patil in the Congress government, has crossed swords with 72-year-old P C Gaddigoudar who has been representing the constituency since 2004.

The only advice she said she got from her father is to stay grounded and work with the masses that she is representing in their best interest.

Samyukta, contesting in Lok Sabha elections for the first time, remains undaunted over being pitched against the senior BJP leader, a seasoned politician.

On her agenda, she said is the overall development of her constituency, bringing new industries, focus on tourism and, most importantly, to get the long-pending Bagalkot-Kudachi railway line completed at the earliest, among other things.

She is also banking on the five guarantee schemes launched by the Siddaramaiah-led government which she feels will benefit her party at the hustings not just in Bagalkot but in the entire state.

“My focus of campaign has been about the work that is done by our government in Karnataka. We have implemented the five guarantees which have helped women, youth and farmers in various other sections of the society irrespective of caste, creed and other things,' Samyukta told PTI in an interview.

Samyukta claimed that in the last 20 years, there was no adequate development in Bagalkot.

Citing the example of the Bagalkot Kudachi railway line project, she said the 142 kilometres long railway line project which was sanctioned (in 2010-11) during the terms of the current MP, who was first elected to Lok Sabha in 2004, has not been completed.

“Only 37 kilometres of this railway line has been completed, so there is over 100 kilometres more left to be done,” she said.

Bagalkot, largely an agrarian constituency, has faced two droughts on the trot but the incumbent MP has not voiced people’s concerns for compensation or sought relief or aid from the central government, Samyukta alleged.

She said Bagalkot has a great potential for tourism development which she intends to focus on as it has places like Badami and various other heritage sites.

Having worked in the party organisation for nearly eight years be it with the National Students' Union of India, and Mahila Congress, Samyukta recalled how she was elected as a Youth Congress representative with the 'highest number of votes in Karnataka' but she also feels that Lok Sabha election is a different ballgame.

“With all the hardwork, support and guidance of all our leaders, all our sitting MLAs and ministers, I am very confident that the Congress party and all its workers will make sure that Congress wins in Bagalkot,” she said.

When asked about contesting against someone who has a vast experience, she said about the 65 per cent of India’s electorate is under the age of 40 and about 50 per cent is under the age of 25. 'So it’s high time we saw representation from the class that is going to be facing the most amount of challenges.'

“Only 12 per cent of our Parliamentarians are under the age of 40 and in that situation, I think we need more young people to represent the needs of the young demographics that India currently has,” she said.

About women in politics, she noted that around 50 per cent of India’s population is women and yet we have so few women MPs in the Parliament.

“Obviously, the barriers to entry for women in politics is very high, but I personally feel that we need more women. I think inducting more women into politics will help other women prepare grounds and break barrier and taboos. It would help bring the perspective of the women even in terms of policy formulation also, I think it really would help if there are more women Parliamentarians on the ground,” she said.

Emphasising that women have proven to be better leaders, she said any woman in politics would bring about a perspective that is very different from a man and that itself would help in sensitising policy towards making it more gender neutral.

“…Because women are naturally caregivers. They are naturally trying to make sure that they are protecting their family and protecting interests of others above their own… they are better decision makers and they are more prudent and also they are also more socially-minded and I think that in that context women are going to be better leaders."

Citing that Bagalkot constituency has more female voters in numbers as compared to male ones, she feels that it would bring in a welcome change in Bagalkot if she wins.

Having seen her father’s political career closely since her childhood as well as the highs and lows of politics, she said that while growing up in a “highly political environment”, one tends to learn and pick up things about it.

“..I think some part of politics comes naturally to you because we have seen situations before and it really helped me a bit in understanding people, their issues and building compassion…Because politics is never even, it keeps fluctuating.. it keeps you grounded but ultimately I think nothing prepares you for politics like being into politics,” she expressed.

On 'dynasty politics', Samyukta said that in the first election, she wouldn’t deny there is an advantage but also stressed that the edge ends thereafter.

“The ultimate decision maker in politics is the people and I think lot of politicians' children don’t succeed in politics – the ultimate litmus test for any politician is the people’s vote and I think that you have to earn it,” she added.

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Published 03 May 2024, 07:47 IST

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