Interview: BJP’s Madhavi describes herself as ‘shakti’; confident of defeating Owaisi in Hyderabad

Raising the 'Right to Neighbourhood Parity' slogan, Madhavi Latha is promising to address issues such as unemployment, malnutrition among children, and triple talaq-related ones.

ByDeepika Pasham | Ajay Tomar

Published Mar 05, 2024 | 2:16 PMUpdatedMar 05, 2024 | 9:48 PM

BJP candidate in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency Madhavi Latha (Ajay Tomar/ South First)

Asaduddin Owaisi, the national president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Lok Sabha from the Hyderabad constituency.

Representing the prestigious constituency ever since his father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi refused to contest citing health reasons in 2004, the third national president of the AIMIM has had a smooth run in all the elections.

The BJP is now targeting to end Owaisi and  AIMIM’s free run in Hyderabad, and has nominated Madhavi Latha Kompella, the chairperson of Virinchi Hospitals, as its candidate.

Latha is confident of winning the segment for the BJP and has already identified issues to be projected during her campaign. Raising the ‘Right to Neighbourhood Parity’ slogan, she is promising to address issues such as unemployment, malnutrition among children, and triple talaq-related ones.

In a freewheeling conversation with South First, Latha spoke about her prospects, the challenges that the constituency faces, and her priorities, if elected.

Edited excerpts:

Q. What are your plans against AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi?

A. To summarise them in one statement, I would say it is the ‘Right to Neighbourhood Parity’. Each person would like to be treated equally when it comes to basic facilities, pride, prestige, development and progress.

When I say ‘Right to Neighbourhood Parity’, it means that the people of the Old City constituency are deprived of everything that their neighbours are enjoying. If one looks at the Hyderabad constituency closely, it may be noticed that the development begins in the areas bordering other Parliament segments. This should not be the condition of a constituency located at the centre of the capital city.

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Q. How do you want the voters to see Madhavi Latha?

A. I want them to see me as a new sunrise. I want them to see me as a new hope. I want my voters not just to see me as a woman but as ‘shakti’ (strength). I want my voters to see me as the Rudramadevi whose fort is located in my constituency.

Q. There was no official announcement when you joined the BJP. Also, why did you join the BJP?

A. After attaining the age of 18, my first vote was for the BJP. I love the party because of the way it thinks and works. I belong to the Sangh Parivar and somebody who is already part of the Parivar, is part of the BJP. The party exists because of the principles it upholds, and we all know that the Sangh Parivar has produced a lot of stalwarts. I don’t look at them as two different organisations.

Q. The Hyderabad seat is considered to be Owaisi’s home turf. What gives you the confidence to beat the AIMIM chief?

A. I was born and brought up in the Hyderabad constituency, and it is my home. The difference until now was that I was not democratically elected. Now, let’s do it as well. I have now entered the battleground to win that seat. I’ll win it and show that it is now my turf.

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Q. Who is your political guru?

A. I would rather call them gurus who moulded my political principles. I have not seen somebody like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I also adore Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu, who had served as the Prime Minister of the Madras Presidency.

Q. Who is your target voter and how will you convince them to vote for you?

A. The entire 21 lakh electorate in the constituency are my target voters.

Q. Could you tell a little about your life before becoming a BJP candidate?

A. I pursued an MA in Political Science from the Koti Women’s College. I am a dancer and sportswoman, I have participated in the Republic Day parade in Delhi as an NCC cadet. I am a painter and orator and I sing as well.

Before marriage, I was a small entrepreneur. After marriage, I have been a part of my husband’s endeavours. I have a lot of knowledge in the construction sector.

Additionally, I have been into a lot of social work. I have my charitable institution through which we have constructed over 2,000 restrooms, and taken care of over 3,000 Anganwadi schools by giving them water facilities and libraries. We have adopted an entire village, where, to date, we have helped 10,000 pregnant women throughout their pregnancy by providing medications.

Q. What are the problems you have noticed in the Hyderabad constituency?

A. People are not speaking up — which means their Right to Expression and Speech is not utilised. These are fundamental rights. People cannot express their thoughts and people cannot speak about their problems. The people are depressed, I went to the interiors of the Old City where women worry about their next month’s ration. The children face malnutrition and poverty is unattended. Nobody wants to address it.

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Q. You have been extensively campaigning against triple talaq. Why did you campaign? Will the Muslim women vote for you?

A. They (the Muslim women) can’t express anything. The moment they express, a mob arrives and silences them. This mob would not think for a minute whether the person — irrespective of their religion — is speaking the truth.

He (Owaisi) is a sensible man, a barrister and an educated man. But he opposed the reservation of Women’s Bill and outlawing triple talaq. So, what does that mean? He doesn’t want to stand up for women. Is it okay that a man will say talaq three times and the relationship is over? Is there no value for a woman? I can’t understand that. Has the Quran given this right? This is just beyond me.

If any woman is facing injustice, who would they turn to? They may not be pointing out a specific person but they all face banishment locally. But who would they tell this when six out of seven Assembly constituencies are theirs (AIMIM) and the MP constituency as well. It is understood who is silencing the women.

I am sure no religion would encourage humiliating women. I’m sure of it though I may not have thorough knowledge of other religions other than mine. But I’m sure educated Muslims would say that rights of every women should be respected and protected.

Q. You have raised concerns over health issues in the Hyderabad constituency, particularly in parts of the Old City. 

A. Old City has several health woes. Children have several hemoglobin issues. Malnutrition, too, is an issue. How will they get food? Only if the family earns. And they have one more problem. Since meat is cheap, they buy it and do not add vegetables to their diet.

Fruits are expensive. They don’t take vegetables. Their water intake is less. They’re not educated. The idea is to open up as many medical centres as possible, ensure everybody gets health cards and Prime Minister’s schemes reach them, ensure access to education so that they start thinking about themselves, self-hygiene and sanitation facilities.

People should not have a situation to go to private organisations, educational institutions or private hospitals. They are depending on private players only because the government institutions or facilities are pathetic.

Q. If elected to power, what will be your focus areas?

A. The first thing that I would want to do is go to the people and listen to them. Well, I know the basic things. But there are still a lot of things that people are not able to talk about because they are deprived of their right to speak. I would set up grievance centres so that women do not have to cross even their lanes and bylanes to reach me.

I would go to women, listen to them, listen to the girl child so that they’ll at least speak their minds. The second thing is I would want impart training to women in various skills so that they could start small establishments. We have several government schemes like Swavalambhan, Vishwakarma, and MUDRA loans. There is no dearth of facilities. The central government have set up many but it is about reaching them. So, I want to be that channel. And by god’s grace, if I win, I will show how to make the AIMIM MLAs work.

Q. What about male voters?

A. All Hindu men will vote for me. Muslim men, who want their mother, daughter or wife to prosper, will also vote for me.