BJP State Secretary's Vanathi Srinivasan's shift from Mylapore to her hometown Coimbatore South has taught her many lessons in campaigning. But more importantly, it has instilled in her a realism.
"Taking on the two big symbols in the state, is no easy task I will admit. I'm looking to the younger generation. Traditional voters are difficult to sway," she confesses. Coming third with 6,000 votes in Mylapore during the 2011 Assembly elections, she's moved closer to her roots in Uliyampalayam to campaign this time.
Propped up to be the most media savvy of the BJP's candidates, she felt it was important to go beyond the usual door-to-door canvassing. Her twitter presence is regularly updated with vines of hers campaigning, and her crowd-sourced manifesto has been a hit among the 18-25 voter group. "I invite suggestions for the manifesto on my social media pages and the overwhelming response has not just made it a party manifesto, but a people's manifesto," she says.
Her target however, remains the upper middle class and first-time voters for now. "We're trying to push for implementation of Modi's schemes, especially the Smart City project. Things will change around here when we go forth with the Smart city program." Coimbatore South is plagued with power problems, infrastructural issues and poor planning, according to her. "For the lower income groups, prohibition is the priority. I have pledged to shut down all TASMACS if I win," she says.
A lawyer at the Madras High Court, listening to her teenage sons' advice on how to campaign has paid off. Coffee with Vanathi was started as a result, where all age groups of voters convened to discuss issues related to politics and development and to know the candidate better. "I've had over 50 people volunteering with me, one of whom is a neurosurgeon. I enjoy working with people who have no politcal background far more because they bring a fresh perspective," she says.
She triggered off a controversy when she was accused of distributing pamphlets inside a temple in the city on the day of Vishu. Vanathi maintains that she was distributing pamphlets outside the temple and that on the request of a devotee, she stepped in for a brief moment and handed the devotee a pamphlet. An FIR has been filed against her for violation of model code of conduct.