Vasanthi Devi speaks about her decision to contest elections, her campaign strategy and her promises to the electorate

PWFs candidate against Jayalalithaa is a respected academic and she wants to put up a tough fight
news Politics Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 07:04

After days of speculation that VCK chief Tho. Thirumavalavan could be contesting from RK Nagar for the 2016 polls taking on TN CM Jayalalilthaa directly, well-known educationist and activist Dr Vasanthi Devi was announced on Wednesday as the common candidate of the People's Welfare Front (PWF) from the constituency against Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The selection of Vasanthi Devi for the ticket, a seasoned and respected academic and activist, has come as a surprise to many even though it is widely accepted that she stands no chance to win the contest against Jayalalithaa.

In conversation with The News Minute, Vasanthi Devi spoke, among other things, about her decision to contest elections, her campaign strategy and her promises to the electorate. 

Born in 1938 in Dindigul, Vasanthi Devi moved to Madras in 1954 when she was 15 and joined Queen Mary's College for her Higher Secondary classes.

In her professional career spanning several decades, Vasanthi Devi has held several posts including the Chairperson of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women (2002-2005) , Principal of Govt. Women’s College, Kumbakonam (1988-1990), Chairperson of the Institute of Human rights Education and Vice-Chancellor of Manonamaniam Sundaranar University.

She is well-known for her work in the fields of education, human rights, gender and environment.

Her foray into politics, she says, was unplanned. "I had no idea about getting into the electoral fray. I was requested on behalf of the alliance to contest from RK Nagar," she says. 

(Vasanthi Devi with VCK chief Thirumavalavan)

Ask her what she feels about winning from RK Nagar, Jayalalithaa's home turf from where the CM is seeking a successive term, and she quickly adds, "I have no idea about winning."

Vasanthi Devi now has several parts of her electoral strategy to concentrate on, but she has to start with something far more basic - meeting people. "I have always been working within the narrow confines of certain areas like education and health. But this is a broad dynamic of democracy. I am sure this will be an enriching experience," she states. 

Candidates across the state are going the extra mile, leaving no stone unturned on their way, to woo voters. From on the ground campaigns to full-fledged social media strategy, the election fever has already caught up in the state. Vasanthi Devi however does not mention whether or not she has a clear campaign strategy in mind.

At 77, the educationist knows the limitations that age can place in front of her. "I am not a young person. It is very hot here and my capability to stretch through these days is not very high. The youngsters will take care of certain areas (like social media) and I will do all that I can," she explains. 

However, RK Nagar is a small constituency and that is an advantage, she further states. 

While she hasn't yet decided on what are the exact issues she will focus on if she wins the seat, she will stick to her areas of interest and expertise. 

"I will be speaking on issues I am familiar with, like education and liquor policy," she asserts. 

She is pro-prohibition and gives the example of Bihar which recently implemented a liquor ban in the state. But will it work? "Nothing is impossible if there is political will and government machinery is put to full function.” 

Apart from the PWF, the DMK and PMK too have fielded women candidates from the constituency. 

Ask her if the high number of women candidates signifies anything for her, and she shoots back, "You wouldn't ask that if a constituency had all male candidates? It has got nothing to do with only women contesting each other."

She however agrees that there aren't enough women in politics and that they should form at least 50% of the political sphere in the country.

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