Political Plunge at 94: Chennai’s Kamakshi Paati
94 1/2 year old great grandmother Kamakshi Subramanyan, fondly called Kamakshi Paati in Chennai’s Besant Nagar could be the oldest candidate in electoral politics. She has thrown her hat in the urban local body polls to become the Councilor of ward No. 174. “For the last ten years we had no elections and I thought this is the best time to step in” says Kamakshi as she prepares to meet people on a door to door campaign.
Her ward in the posh Besant Nagar stretching from Besant Nagar to a pocket of Adyar along the LB Road in the city has around 25000 voters. “I promise to give safe roads and encroachments free pavements while politicians encourage shops and vendors in these places” explains Kamakshi.
Over the last few decades Kamakshi has been an active social activist working for various civic amenities in the area. A storm water drain model she initiated has saved many stretches from flooding. She also had raised voice against underground drainage system in the sandy areas closer to the beach and implementation of the smart city project without what she calls “consulting residents”. She had also played a key role in restoring the landmark, Karl Schmidt Memorial on the Elliot’s Beach. She said “The face of the beach suffered severe cracks and damages and would have collapse had we not attended. We worked with IIT Madras and ultimately it was restored. I am very proud of it”.
The articulate, bold and independent candidate reaches out to voters via social media too promoting her hurricane lamp symbol. Asked about political parties using money power she says “I will not bribe voters, I am dead against it”.
Kamakshi regards Lal Bahadur Shastri as her political role model. “He resigned as railway minister when he heard about the Ariyalur train accident None like him now. Those days they were so simple and accessible”.
Kamakshi Paati’s son is settled in Europe and her two daughters are in India. Her late husband was a senior officer at the President’s estate in New Delhi. “We were there from Lord Moundbatten to President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy” she proudly recollects. When asked should she have made the political plunge much earlier she says “No I am very much capable. I am able to work. I have a good team in SPARK through which we have done lots of work, besides many good friends and well wishers.
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