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3 Interesting Lok Sabha Candidate Battles To Look Out For This Election Season

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By Saurabh Gandhi:

Political newbies seem to be the flavour of the election season in India. Be it a Union Territory like Chandigarh or the urban constituencies of Bangalore or the hills of West Bengal; some of the candidates declared by the political parties are generating a lot of interest, and rightly so, because at the end of the day, whoever wins the election at the MP (Member of Parliament)’s level will determine the overall national picture. And the local candidate can very well swing the votes one way or the other. Here is a list of 3 Lok Sabha Contests to Look Out For:

Gul Panag v/s Pawan Kumar Bansal

(Chandigarh Constituency) — One is a former Miss India. The other is a former Union Railway Minister. One is contesting on a ticket of the newest political kid on the block, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The other on a ticket of the Grand Old Party (INC). Let us look at their pluses and minuses:

Gul Panag:

Pluses: A model and an actor, she is literally what you call a ‘fresh face’. She was born in the city and hence has the local connect. Her age (35 years), profession and her known craze for fitness give her the ‘youth connect’. Add to this the fact that she hasn’t been un-opinionated on current issues.

Minuses: It is this trait of being vocal about politics that has raised certain questions about her choice of party. In 2012, she had endorsed Narendra Modi for PM on Twitter. In her defence, she says, “That was when there was no AAP around. You look for no alternative and find the one-eyed in a land of the blind (andhon me kaana raja). It is not a choice. Narendra Modi for PM was something that came from resignation and a sense of fait-accompli.’‘ Apart from this, the lack of support from the local workers of AAP (many of whom feel she was parachuted as a candidate) could hamper her chances.

Pawan Kumar Bansal:

Pluses: He is the sitting MP from the seat. In fact, he has represented the constituency four times in the Lok Sabha. His political experience and the strong organization of the party in the area are his only advantages.

Minuses: His image (along with his party’s) took a hit when he had to resign as Railway Minister after an allegation of bribery involving his nephew (the quintessential “bhanja”) surfaced. Presently, there is no case against him as the CBI cleared him and the same has been accepted by the court.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has recently declared actress Kirron Kher as its candidate for this constituency. There is widespread discontent in the local party workers regarding her nomination. If she can overcome that, she would be a formidable force.

Nandan Nilekani v/s Ananth Kumar

nnvsak(South Bangalore Constituency) — One is a successful businessman. The other, a full-time politician. South Bangalore will witness a fight to the finish between INC’s Nandan Nilekani, former Infosys technocrat and head of the Aadhaar initiative of the Government of India (he has already resigned as UIDAI chief) and the five-time sitting MP of the BJP, Ananth Kumar.

Nandan Nilekani:

Pluses: He may be a newbie in electoral politics, but he has had experience in dealing with politicians as UIDAI chief. Apart from the good work done by him and his wife in the field of philanthropy, his clean image, along with administrative acumen (which he highlights by mentioning the fact that he headed the effort which made it possible for 60 million people to get the Aadhaar number) and his positive campaign till now (he has focused on public utilities, transport and employment) are his pluses.

Minuses: His choice of party might be a stumbling block in his victory. Though he is confident of winning and cites his ideological familiarity as the reason for choosing INC, the local connect might be a problem. Although he is a Bangalorean, he tries hard to sound natural while speaking in Kannada. He conceded in an interview that his hi-tech campaign was not good enough. One still has to go and knock on people’s doors and ask for votes, he said.

Ananth Kumar:

Pluses: A National Secretary of BJP, Ananth Kumar is a five-time sitting MP from the constituency. The fact that INC has not won this seat since the past 25 years speaks volumes in his favour.

Minuses: In comparison to Nilekani, he may fall short in the urban connect. Nilekani has all characteristics that today’s youth look for: he got into an IIT on merit, co-founded an IT company and made it successful with his skill and hard work and even contributed towards building Bangalore’s infrastructure as part of a task force in the past. Kumar, on the other hand, is a full time politician since a young age.

X- Factor:
The good news for Nilekani is that the state of Karnataka has always bucked the trend. Whenever, people of India choose INC at the Centre, people of Karnataka choose BJP. When INC loses at the central level, Karnataka offers a saving grace to the INC.

Baichung Bhutia v/s S.S. Ahluwalia


(Darjeeling Constituency) — This is one constituency which didn’t have a local candidate in 2009 and it won’t have one in 2014. The people of Darjeeling will have to choose between former Indian football team captain Baichung Bhutia fielded by All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and BJP’s National Vice-President, S. S. Ahluwalia.

Baichung Bhutia:

Pluses: In comparison to his rival, Baichung Bhutia can claim that he is less of an outsider as he hails from the neighbouring state of Sikkim. Add to that the fact that he is a well-known footballer with huge fans all over the country, more so in the eastern part of India.

Minuses: Bhutia has shifted the goal posts by entering politics. His lack of political experience can be described as a minus. Other than that, he does not carry any baggage that may go against him.

S.S. Ahluwalia:

Pluses: He has been a Lok Sabha MP from both Bihar and Jharkhand. He has also served as a Rajya Sabha member. In short, he is not short of political acumen.

Minuses: He is a complete outsider. Add to that, the fact that the BJP doesn’t have much of a presence in West Bengal.

X- Factor:
The local dominating political party in Darjeeling, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has declared its support for BJP candidate. Even in 2009, the GJM had supported Jaswant Singh (BJP) and he had won. GJM demands a separate state of Gorkhaland and BJP is in favour of creating such a state. But Mamata Banerjee’s AITC cannot be ignored this time as they handled the statehood demand quite strongly and the CM has given special attention to North Bengal.

You must be to comment.
  1. Deepak

    You missed out Kappil Sibbal v/s Dr.harsh Vardhan in Chandni Chowk! 🙂

    1. Saurabh Gandhi

      Yeah, kapil sibal v/s dr. Harshvardhan v/s ashutosh !

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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