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'My father would have backed my decision'

Mamatha Nachani. Photograph: KPN photo
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April 24, 2008

Her father, the late Ramakrishna Hegde, was the first non-Congress chief minister of Karnataka. He was a symbol of the opposition to the Congress in the state and never minced words when criticising the Congress.

Ironically, today his daughter, Mamatha Nichani is the Congress candidate from the Ramnagar constituency and she is pitched against former chief minister and Janata Dal-Secular candidate H D Kumaraswamy.

Nichani, who is married to a businessman who runs a travel agency, is Hegde's eldest daughter. She was seen along with her father when he had floated the Lok Shakti party. However that party became almost defunct following Hegde's death in January 2004. Nichani then stayed away from politics but resurfaced in 2006 when she joined the Congress.

She spoke to's Vicky Nanjappa about her political ambitions, her thoughts on the political scenario and her decision to join the Congress, a party which her father had opposed all his life.

Coverage: Karnataka Votes

What prompted you enter mainstream politics?

My father had once told me, 'if you have a problem against the system do something about. It is very easy for you to sit at home and talk. Go out and do something about it'. I watched very closely what happened after the elections in 2004. It was a fractured mandate and there was so much confusion. I used to feel sorry for the state and that is when I decided that I should come back to politics and make a difference.

What prompted you to join the Congress?

I needed to be in a secular party. The Congress is a very secular party, it stands up for youth and women, and that is what attracted me.

In Karnataka politics, caste matters

Did you even consider joining the JD-S or the Bharatiya Janata Party? Why not the Lok Shakti party that your father floated?

My views do not agree with the ideologies of the BJP, even though my father supported it during the earlier days of the National Democratic Alliance. As for the JD-S, gone are those days when leaders like (former chief minister) S R Bommai and the rest used to rule the party. Tell me who is there in the JD-S today who we can look up to? Considering all these aspects, I joined the Congress.

Do think you have defied your father's ideology by joining the Congress?

I don't think so. I have my own views about things. Let us not forget that my father was originally a Congressman. Of course he left the party due to certain differences. I am entitled to my own opinion. I know for a fact that I can make a difference to the system and I needed a national party for a platform. Hence I thought that the Congress is the best option.

'The BJP will break all records in Karnataka'

Would your father have supported your decision to join the Congress had he been alive?

I am sure he would have. He never compelled us into doing anything. He would have respected my views and also would have seen the reason behind my decision. My father is in my heart all the time and that gives me immense support morally. These elections, I will fight with my father in my heart and I am sure he will guide me in this battle.

Are you confident of winning the elections considering the fact that you are pitted against a candidate with such a high profile?

I am sure I will do well. My father too was elected from this part of Karnataka. There are several issues that need to be addressed and I am sure of faring well.

When did you get to know that you will be given a ticket? Did you even expect to be given one?

(Laughs) To be honest, I never had an inkling that I would be given a ticket. I was completely taken aback and shocked when the party announced my name. I was not prepared for it. But now I know my role is defined and I will get into the act. I will start campaigning immediately.

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Are you aware that you have been chosen to fight against Kumaraswamy due to astrological reasons?

The Gowda clan feels that it is bad luck for them to fight against a woman candidate. Deve Gowda lost in the last election to Tejaswini [Images]. A woman candidate (G S Anupama) has been pitted against Kumaraswamy's brother, H D Revanna in Holenarasipura.

I was not aware about it until yesterday. It was only when the press started asking me these questions that I got to know that there was this angle to it. However I do not agree that my candidature at Ramnagar is due to astrological reasons. The Congress was looking at fielding more women candidates and that is why my name came up.

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