HYDERABAD, April 16 — (TCN) Women’s under representation in political sphere is inextricably linked with their low and inferior status in the Indian society. When it comes to participation in active politics in the country, Muslim women remain far behind compared to women from other communities. However, things have dramatically changed for fair sex in general with the coming of internet and penetration of smartphones in some of the remotest parts of the world. Girls are acquiring advance degrees and skills through both direct and distance education modes, in order to keep themselves professionally competent in the era of sophisticated gadgets and machines.
Popular on global map as an IT hub, Hyderabad also produced some of the finest minds, including Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidu, renowned Marxist poet Makhdoom Mohiuddin, and reputed politicians Dr. Zakir Hussain and Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi. Dr. Lubna Sarwath is one of the contemporary bright minds from the city who joined politics, with whom SM Fasiullah interacts to explore her achievements and know why she entered politics. She holds PhD in Economics from an Indonesian university and is a recipient of IKFS’ Best Economist Award for 2012.
TCN: What are the challenges you faced being a lady who stepped out of home to serve the society?
Lubna Sarwath: No specific challenges as such because of my community or my gender. I have been educated at a higher level and currently a Visiting Lecturer at a university abroad. I see men and women as humen first. It is the people in the city who are actually facing challenges. They are at a deprived level from where they are neither in a position to dream nor realize their dreams. I find myself in a position to address their challenges from a participatory platform.
TCN: You have been involved in numerous social activities. When you joined active politics, what was your family’s reaction to it?
LS: I just informed them of my decision to enter active politics. I never took the permission. And their reaction was not positive one, as Old City (Hyderabad) dynamics are different. When you think of politics in Old City, immediate concern that pops up in mind is life security.
TCN: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) offered you ticket to contest for Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat. What was the rationale behind accepting the offer?
I was among the 27 women who participated in ‘India-Women in Leadership Programme’ at IIM Bangalore in 2012, which gave huge exposure and we got the opportunity to speak with national-level politicians from across parties. Prior to that I was already involved in social activities in the city, and knew the ground reality of majority of aam aadmi. Situation at ground zero is gruesome. I visited some areas in the city where people have to line up early morning to relax as there’s only one lavatory in some quarters. At this stage you can’t tell them to work hard and do something extraordinary. They need backing, at least to fulfill basic necessities. The situation is changeable. Hence I thought of connecting with masses through political platform, with the hope to bring a positive change in the lives of aam aadmi.
The Owaisis have won Hyderabad LS seat for eight consecutive terms. How confident you feel in proving a contest in the Owaisi’s bastion?
First of all, I am not treating it as a contest in Owaisi’s bastion. It’s not a contest against Mr. Owaisi. I am not anti-anybody, including AIMIM, TDP or any party for that matter. My agenda is different. My view point and focus is something else. I am against dynastic politics, corruption, communalism, parochialism and miss-governance. Being an AAP candidate, I am against all these things. If the current regime or any regime responsible for these then I am against them. We want to focus on issues, and expect people to think in the same way, instead of going after caste-based politics, communal-politics, or dynastic politics, etc. We want people to think ‘out-of-the box’ for their own development. People should not vote on the basis of social status or family status. They should vote to those who work for public, and are honest with good character. For me MP means ‘meet the people’. An MP is like a patron whose responsibility is to look after the entire constituency, irrespective of whether any person voted for him/her or not.
As far as Hyderabad is concerned, the Pearl City or the City of Gardens has lost the charm – water bodies are not preserved, trees are being cut regularly, pollution is increasing, there’s no sufficient supply of electricity, security problem, and no dignified life. It is a bastion of these problems and miss-governance. Knowing the ground realities, I will take them up for practical policy design then see that those designed policies are informed at the ground level, and also ensure its implementation. Defects are at both designing and implementation levels. I feel all these problems are resolvable with existing resources and technology.
An influential person turned down AAP offer in Hyderabad as the party’s presence is barely felt and no prominent national AAP leader visited the city to boost up fervor this election season. How do you evaluate your strengths then?
There is a huge support for the party that wants participatory governance on the basis of insaaf, insaniat and imaandari (justice, humanity and honesty). The regime we promise is not about ruling masses, but about allowing the masses to rule. There is a huge mass out there that wants change. Every other person wants a change, and is looking for an alternative. They simply need to be directed towards the change. This is my gut feeling. In AAP, you give your vote and you rule. Aam aadmi will rule our MP and MLA. These are humanitarian concepts which actually invoke accountability and responsibility.
Though we do not have enough funds at the state level now, but fund raising started the moment I was given ticket. Hopefully we will have enough funds to contest smoothly this time.
How will be AAP different than other political parties that take Muslim votes but don’t deliver?
We do not differentiate between Hindu or Muslim voters. We are seeking votes on humanitarian grounds. TRS says it will give Deputy CM post to Muslim. Why not CM post, I ask. What these parties are playing with? The concept involved in AAP is so encompassing that it talks about justice and humanitarian grounds upon which every citizen of the country must be dealt with. It is all about equal opportunity and affirmative action. As far as security issue of Muslims is concerned, keeping them educated and informed would make them self-reliant to deal with any authority when there is any wrong. All other solutions in this regard are temporary and for time being. Empower them through education then they will take care of their security.
What you hope to achieve by contesting in this election?
Choosing a candidate is voters’ choice. If they prefer me over other contestants then I will deal with material concerns as well their mental wellbeing. Wellbeing of a nation or a constituency is not just about having some material things.
In other case, I will strive to strengthen party through percolation of AAP concept so that more and more people join us. The party will empower people at grass-root level so that they can resolve various problems facing them, and represent to the concerned by offering innovative solutions. The party will also work as a pressure group at policy making level.
TCN & Caravandaily [April 15, 2014] – http://caravandaily.com/portal/i-am-not-against-anyone-i-am-against-dynastic-politics-aap-candidate-from-hyderabad/