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The Rediff Election Interview/Bader Sayeed

May 06, 2004

Lawyer Bader Sayeed was a surprise All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate for the prestigious Chennai South constituency.

Chennai South, which has sent stalwarts like C N Annadurai, T T Krishnamachari and R Venkataraman to Parliament, has of late become a strong bastion of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

T R Baalu, former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam minister at the Centre, is the sitting MP from here.

Bader Sayeed, an advocate, is also the first woman chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board.

A schoolmate of Jayalalitha, 54-year-old Bader Sayyed is a grandmother. She has two children. Her son is an engineer working in the US and her daughter is a lawyer in Singapore. Sayeed spoke to Special Contributing Correspondent Shobha Warrier.

You joined the AIADMK just a couple of years ago. Now you have been nominated as a candidate from the most prestigious constituency in Tamil Nadu. Did the nomination come as a surprise to you?

Yes, it was a surprise. I think the chief minister (J Jayalalithaa) has honoured me by giving me the nomination.

Was it because you were her classmate that she chose you?

Do you feel that is the only reason? Do you think I am not competent? Madam Jayalalithaa thought I was competent.

Yes, we were schoolmates. I think school friends never forget each other. We are all from Churchpark (school) and we have a special bond with Churchpark.

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Had you two been meeting quite often?


Was she responsible for you joining the party?

Yes. She asked me and I did. I look upon her as my role model. I always think she is a very courageous woman, and she is the greatest chief minister we have had.

Chennai South is dominated by Brahmins. Being a Muslim do you find this a disadvantage?

Not at all. I have never felt they looked at me as a Muslim. They are all enlightened and educated people. I have felt no discrimination. How are they different from the others? I am a hundred percent sure they will appreciate an educated and committed person like me.

You are a lawyer by profession. How difficult is campaigning? As a woman, have you felt discriminated against?

It is as difficult as any other job. But you have got to overcome all the difficulties to achieve something.

I always believe that women are equal to men. Better than men very often. I am no different from other candidates. I feel the way they feel. Yes, you would be physically tired and mentally fatigued. Otherwise, I have not seen any special disadvantage. I have all the support from the party, and that makes all the difference.

All the opinion polls say the DMK-led front is going to sweep the election in Tamil Nadu.

I don't believe in opinion polls. I have never believed in them.

Chennai has been a DMK bastion.

These bastions fall very often. I am sure this bastion is also going to fall, and I am going to win.

The general talk is that it is going to be a walkover for T R Baalu.

You just wait and see. The result will see for whom it is a walkover.

You are the first woman chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board. How challenging is the post?

That post was very challenging. We have set the house in order. I am sure the Muslim citizens of the state will vouch for me. It was Madam Jayalalithaa who picked me and told me you need to do it. You have my support.

I have just now resigned from the post. That is because I am standing for the election. Propriety demands I don't have another post while I am campaigning.

Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj | Image: Rahil Shaikh

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India Votes 2004 | The Rediff Interviews

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