Five years ago, people of Terdal saw her as a political novice, an outsider, though a celebrity. Today, actor-turned-politician Umashree is at home at Terdal Assembly constituency.

“The secret behind gaining the confidence of the people is to shed the image of celebrity. People may gather in large numbers to see an actor, but making them vote for the same person is a different matter,” says Ms. Umashree, who is contesting on Congress ticket from Terdal segment in Bagalkot district for the second time. She lost in the last election to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Siddu Savadi.

Ravi Telsang, a young agriculturist, says when Ms. Umashree visited Terdal for the first time, people were excited to see an actor in a small hamlet.

However, when it came to voting, they chose her opponent. Accompanying her through the villages during campaigning, it is easy to understand how the residents have finally accepted Ms. Umashree as one of them. Wearing an inexpensive sari and worn-out footwear, the actor interacts with residents with ease, entering their houses without hesitation and enquiring after their health. She makes it a point to tell them that they should not vote for her as a celebrity, but as their “own daughter”. “After losing the last election, she began visiting Terdal regularly. She made sure she attended every wedding and funeral in Terdal. Perhaps, this will help her gain the people’s confidence,” says Ravindra Hatti, convener of Terdal Weavers’ Association. Mr. Hatti says it was due to Ms. Umashree’s intervention that the government reduced the price of electricity from Rs. 3.20 to Rs. 1.25 per unit to powerloom owners of Terdal, which has over 45,000 weavers. He believes that it has pulled many units from the brink of closure.

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