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An unusual candidate seeks to redefine politics

india Updated: Apr 14, 2009 10:26 IST
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No tall promises, none of the usual pomp associated with the campaign. Pratibha Rao, who set up a renowned eye hospital here with her husband on returning home after 12 years in the United States, is going quietly from door to door in her bid to represent the newly-created Jubilee Hills assembly constituency here.

Pratibha, wife of ophthalmologist GN Rao, is the candidate of the Lok Satta, which is making its debut in Andhra Pradesh politics with a promise to be different. She takes on sitting Congress legislator from Khairtabad P. Vishnuvardhan Reddy.

"We are trying to redefine politics and change the political culture. We are saying what good politics should be about. It should be about education, not about giving away free colour TVs. It is about healthcare, not about free rice. It is about making people stand on their own feet and to enable them to take care of themselves," Pratibha told IANS.

"There is no point in saying that things are bad if you do not want to do anything about it. You are either a part of a problem or part of the solution. I opted to be a part of the solution," said Pratibha, who set up the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) with her husband in 1986 on returning to India.

Pratibha is one of the founding members of Lok Satta, a movement for democratic reform turned political party headed by a former bureaucrat and intellectual, Jayaprakash Narayan.

"Politics is a noble endeavour to bridge the gap between limited state resources and unlimited wants of people," she said. "People do want lots of things but everything is not possible. How the state balances these is what politics is all about.

"People's needs can be met with these resources but they (politicians) are pocketing this money or abusing it for their own selfish needs, dividing people by caste, religion, region, rural, urban, educated, uneducated and gender. They are tearing society apart."

Pratibha has found that her attempt to convince voters was "far easier than what I had anticipated".

"People are ready to listen. They are receptive because they are fed up with what has been happening. They watch television. They know between the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who stole what, who ate what, how much they have taken away from the state and who is robbing whom."

On her campaign trail, Pratibha is accompanied by her husband, the chairman of LVPEI. She is confident of making it to the assembly with the support of a majority of the over 200,000 voters in the constituency.