Interview with Shobha Karandlaje


 Interview with the lone woman minister in Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa’s cabinet, until the Reddy brothers ousted her. I interview her for MiD DAY on Women’s Day, 2008

Being a lone woman in the cabinet, do you find any difficulties?

No. I have never faced any problems being the lone woman. I have been taking my independent decisions. I feel if there were many other women ministers things would have been easier. All women could together put forward the problems of women in the state, and our stand would have been stronger.


How did you enter politics?

I come from a RSS family. My brother was a full time RSS worker and I followed him. I was active in the RSS. In 2004 I became a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC). In 2007, I contested the assembly elections and won. I was inducted into the cabinet as a minister.


Tell us about your life before becoming a politician?

I was born into a farmer’s family in a village called Charvaka in Dakshin Kannada district. Our village had no basic facilities like road or electricity. Till 10th standard I studied in a school which had no teachers. I did my graduation at St Philomena’s, Puttur and MSW from Roshni Nilaya, Managlore. I then worked as a research assistant in Indian Institute of Social Services and as a counselor at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.


Do you suggest politics as a career for women?

Certainly. Most educated women shun away from politics. I call upon them not only to vote but to also participate actively in politics. They are well informed and take good decisions for the welfare of the state. The have to come forward to clean the system.


Politics is considered dirty. So you still recommend it?

Yes politics is dirty. There is a lot of leg pulling, jealously and enmity. That’s why I ask educated youngsters to join politics. Not only BJP, but let them join any party. Educated youngsters can cleanse the system.


Can women handle the pressures of being a politician?

I have not faced any problem. May be this is because I am single and hence had no other commitments. I could give my time totally to politics. But when women are married, they may face difficulties. As Indian women they have to take care of their families as well as concentrate on their career. Still, we have many successful married women politicians in India like Sushma Swaraj and Sheila Dixit.


Why have you remained single?

 RSS has a tradition where many do not get married and devote their time totally to service. I had grown up with the same mentality and decided not to get married. Initially there was opposition from my family and they wanted me to marry and settle down. But later they gave in.


Of late, Bangalore has come to be known as an unsafe city with attacks on women. Do you think the city is unsafe?

 Bangalore is safe compared to many other cities in India. Incidents like eve-teasing have been happening in Bangalore before too. It is just that now they are being hyped. To stop such incidents the mentality of the people has to change.  I have traveled alone in the city before entering politics, and I have never faced any problem. The onus is also on women too. They should not dress provocatively or behave invitingly. I don’t say that they should not wear jeans, but they should not be provocative.


Do you wear jeans?

I have worn it in my younger days. I used to wears jeans and tops. Now, I restrict myself to sarees and salwar kameez.


Unlike other woman politicians you have worn a fancy embroidered saree. Who selects your clothes?

(laughs) If I like any saree I buy it. After becoming a minister I haven’t been able to go shopping. My friends select my clothes and buy them for me. I used to wear fancy sarees earlier, by now I have to restrict myself. So now I prefer khadi silk.


What is your take on pub culture?

It is an individual’s choice. If a woman in matured, working and independent she can certainly go to a pub if she wishes. I am not for students going to the pub. Here it is not about culture, but responsibility. No parent would want his student child to miss classes and be in pubs.


Do you drink alcohol?

No. I don’t


There is a buzz that an astrologer had told Devegowda that the next Chief Minister would be a woman, so he put his daughter-in-law Anita Kumaraswamy in the bye-elections. Do you see yourself as the first woman Chief Minister of Karnataka?

(Smiles) No Comments. I pray that our leader Yeddyurappa only continues as the next chief minister for the next ten years. He is doing a very good job. I am still young in politics and have to learn a lot.





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