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For Renuka, it?s a ?dressing down?

Congress candidate Renuka Chowdhary, who is contesting from this Lok Sabha constituency, is in full battle gear and has roped in her husband and loyal friends to help her campaign.
PTI | By Ashok Das, Khammam
PUBLISHED ON APR 19, 2004 02:22 AM IST

Congress candidate Renuka Chowdhary, who is contesting from this Lok Sabha constituency, is in full battle gear and has roped in her husband and loyal friends to help her campaign.

While her Gadwal and Pochampalli saris are out, so is the make-up she normally cannot do without.

A full-sleeved white blouse topped with a green-bordered white handloom cotton sari is her trademark these days as Renuka Chowdhary, a.k.a. Renuka Bai, hurries through dusty and steamy villages seeking a second term from this Lok Sabha seat.

"These (cotton saris) are cheap and also good for the summer heat," she says, flashing her famous smile. What is left unsaid is that the inexpensive cotton sari would endear her to the rural women.

A few kilometers into the campaign, she changes to an appliqué work ghagra-choli (the dress banjara tribes women wear) and moves from hut to hut in the banjara hamlet. She embraces a toothless woman and poses with some unwashed children and then dances with the tribals, mouthing their songs.

"Now I can speak their dialect. The women relate to me easily. They call me Renuka Bai," she says.

Despite her hectic schedule and the scorching heat, she doesn't look tired. The secret: A lot of lemon juice throughout the day and the "usual multi-vitamins".

Hubby Sridhar, a successful industrialist, has taken a month off to oversee her campaign. A number of her friends from Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi are also going around the constituency in batches seeking votes. "I have been coming here to seek votes for her since 1999," says Bangalore-based Gayatri, who was her classmate at university.

Renuka is being portrayed as an outsider in comparison to her rival TDP candidate Nama Nageswar Rao, who is being depicted as the son of the soil.

She is also accused of having done little in last five years. "What rubbish? I am not a local MLA," she says.

What could queer the pitch for her is the presence of a candidate each of the CPI and CPM at Khammam and Sujathnagar assembly segments. Similarly, sections of her own party are not too well disposed towards her.

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