For a politician hungry for every possible vote ahead of a big election, a spouse who is not shy of exhibiting her emotions in public can be a godsend.
While stories of influential leaders’ kin fighting elections is hardly news anymore, the election scene in Karnataka sees better halves shedding the odd tear or two to impress voters.
A scene enacted in this toy-making town, which is home to the Cauvery-fed green sugarcane fields, drives home the point. Anitha, wife of former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, literally breaks down over his “toil” for the poor as even her father-in-law and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda looks taken aback.
Even though Anitha is not on good terms with her husband or father-in-law, Gowda is unapologetic about getting her to campaign for him. “Tell me which party in India has no family members,” he asks.
Meanwhile, in far away Hubli-Dharwad, it is Shilpa, who is proudly described by her husband and BJP chief minister Jagadish Shettar as his campaign manager.
He is usually busy as the saffron party’s “Mr Clean” clearing the “sleaze debris” left behind by his fellow Lingayat leader BS Yeddyurappa who rebelled to form his own outfit, KJP.
Shilpa, who is known as Shettar’s “remote control” in the BJP circles, is no novice when it comes to tugging at the emotions of the voter.
Though Shettar has never tasted defeat since he first contested in 1994, Shilpa is taking no chances. A tired looking Shilpa says, “I campaign not less than 8 hours a day and know our voters as I have campaigned with my husband before. But I am out this time because he is the face of the BJP and has to go to other places.”
Local BJP workers say she is in demand in the neighbouring constituences too as her smile and tear both can be powerful weapons.