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Riding on Congress’ card, Kusuma keen to carve out her own identity

Express News Service

BENGALURU: All of 31, H Kusuma joined the Congress barely a week ago, and dived right into campaigning for Rajarajeshwari Nagar bypoll, after being named the party candidate. For Kusuma, who has been largely identified as late IAS officer DK Ravi’s wife, politics and bypolls are an opportunity to carve an identity of her own. To take on the BJP and JDS in her debut electoral battle, Kusuma is falling back on her trump cards: of being an educated young woman, but more importantly, a ‘daughter of the constituency’. Excerpts:

What led you to choose politics and the Congress?
I was Assistant Professor at an engineering college, and would always help my students and guide them when they needed me. I realised that helping people is something I enjoy. I look at this (politics) as an opportunity to help a larger section of people. The Congress has given me this opportunity. My ideology includes inclusiveness. The Congress allows people to voice their opinion. There is democracy, and women are given ample opportunities. 

You joined the Congress only last week. How have local cadres accepted your candidature?
I am not new to politics. I have canvassed and campaigned with my father for years, and worked closely with him and people who would come to meet him. I understand the pulse of this constituency. Voters are angry and anguished. I understand that. Local cadres and citizens will support me because I am young and educated.

What is your poll pitch?
Educated folk sit at home and complain about issues that bother them, but nobody wants to take the plunge to make changes. I trust my capabilities. They say there is nothing stronger than a broken person rebuilding herself. I have seen a lot in life, yet haven’t given up. I want to be the person who brings change. Voters think of me as their daughter and sister. Every woman and household will connect with me because they want their women to come out, speak up and build their own identity.

Are you equipped to take on the BJP that is sure to field a formidable candidate? 
I am not thinking of opponents at all. My complete focus is on solving people’s issues and the initiatives I can bring in to help the needy, and ensure that government benefits and allowances reach my constituents. People choose a representative expecting to depend on the person for five years. Everyone knows why the need for these elections arose. The representative who promised to serve the people for five years, opted out. Voters are mature enough to understand that. My focus is to rebuild the constituency and make it a better place. 

Your challenges?
I need to understand area-specific problems that my constituents face. I will go to their doorsteps and seek an opportunity. I need to convince them their representative should be someone educated and young, instead of someone who looks at politics as a money-making business. My motive is to serve people, I am working with the cadres too and need to convince them that my ideologies are in tune with the party’s. I could be their daughter or sister, I should get them on board and work together. 

People know you as the wife of late IAS officer DK Ravi. His mother has taken exception to you using his name in your campaign. How do you view this?
I was his lawfully wedded wife. I remain so. Nobody can negate it. I have never used his name before and neither will I use it in future. I have never done anything to malign his name, dignity and fame in public. I am trying to move on and create my own identity. Why should women always be identified by the husband or his position? Shouldn’t a woman have her own identity? I think I will be successful in creating my own identity.
 

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