The Congress candidate for the Karur Lok Sabha constituency S. Jothimani set the cat among the pigeons when she proclaimed before bewildered partymen here recently that she had but a princely sum of Rs. 2,400 to fight the elections. Before the din settled, she exhorted them to contribute funds and work for the party’s victory in the elections, evoking derision, frustration and anger at once.
Ms. Jothimani is no political novice. National secretary of the Mahila Congress and a prominent member of the ‘Rahul Brigade’, she has been posted in the women’s wing after a long stint in the Youth Congress. She had unsuccessfully contested the 2011 Assembly elections from Karur.
When she declared her opening balance as Rs. 2,400, it naturally angered party leaders and cadres. Consequently some local Congressmen faxed letters to party president Sonia Gandhi, seeking urgent replacement with a more solid and resourceful candidate. But their appeal came a trifle late. Ms. Jothimani is very much in the race.
In an era when candidates spend crores to contest even panchayat elections, going much beyond the officially sanctioned amount, what would the disclosure cause in the minds of the party cadres other than baffle and disbelief When The Hindu posed questions to Ms. Jothimani (38), she straightaway refuted that it was a ploy to divert people’s attention. She instead stated that it was a “problem that she is proud of’’ as a true Congress worker. “I have a clean image and I won’t compromise on honesty. Money is no issue here and it is the candidate who matters,’’ she stresses.
The amount declared by her is no mere number, but reflects the quality of a politician who has been in the ruling party for 18 years but has not been affected by the lure of money, she adds.
“We are not going to do conventional campaign, but aim at people-oriented and purposeful campaign that enlightens and sensitizes people to the numerous schemes being implemented by the Congress regime at the Centre’’, she says, adding she is pretty confident of winning the elections.
To more pointed queries, Ms. Jothimani affirmed that she was expecting monetary support from the party and conceded that she had ``officially’’ stated that she had spent Rs. seven lakh during the 2011 Assembly elections, after starting off campaign with “just Rs. 5,000’’ in hand.