Not limiting themselves to expressing outrage on social media, or lamenting that Indian politics is ridden with corruption, two young women in the state have sprung a surprise by deciding to contest in the Telangana Panchayat elections.
These two women are 24-year-old Sushmitha Naidu from Nizamabad and 30-year-old Sai Pravallika Nagam from Ghatkesar. Both these graduates have decided to bring about a political change in their respective villages.
Sushmitha, an MBA graduate working in Ireland, quit her lucrative job to contest in the elections from her native village, Yedapally- reserved for BC women.
Her father Shankar Naidu, a former Sarpanch from the Congress party, and his family members though were against her decision. They didn't know that politics had been at the back of her mind since childhood. "Since I come from a political family, I too had a keen interest in it. However, my father told me to study well and look after myself before doing something for others," she says.
Speaking about how she managed to convince her father on her decision to join politics, she says, "My father was against the idea, however, I had to persuade my sister and brother to convince them that this is what I wanted to do always."
The 24-year-old is certain that the people of her village will vote for her. "When I resigned the job, I convinced my father asking him not to worry since I have a Masters degree, and can look for a job, but actually I haven't thought of any such backup plan. I am sure that I will continue in politics."
Girls dropping out after finishing secondary school, is one of the major issues in her village which she would like to change, says Sushmitha. "For me, education and health are two major things, which I want my people to avail. After finishing class 10, many girls are forced to end their education, since they have to travel to neighbouring towns, which is really unfortunate. I want to campaign against such regressive ideas and make sure that our people avail all health benefits provided by the government."
Sushmitha says that although many feel that she's too young to get into politics, she feels that more young people should get into the field.
Similarly, another animal and environmental activist, 30-year-old Sai Pravallika Nagam has filed her nomination for both ward member and Sarpanch from Koremmula, a village in Ghatkesar, where she has been working for the past one year. Her decision to join politics wasn't sudden, as she had earlier thought of contesting as an MLA from Jubilee Hills. However, fierce competition and the money involved forced her to abort her plans.
Pravallika has been working as an animal activist in Hyderabad for the past eight years. And she considers Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi as her political inspiration. "My activist life taught me that having political power to do activism is very important," she says.
Pravallika, who is presently pursuing her LLB degree, has full support of her family and husband to take up politics. She says that Koremulla has a lot of basic problems which remain unsolved even after decades. "The village doesn't have a CC (cement concrete) road, and drainage continues to flow on to the roads. I want to fix this if I am elected as the Sarpanch or ward member."
She claims that many are pressurising her to withdraw her nomination, but she has no plans of dropping out. "I won't spend money like others, I don't have it. But I think I can convince the voters."
Panchayat elections in Telangana will be held in three phases on January 21, 25 and 30.