Meet Shivakumar Tontapura: AAP’s visually impaired candidate from Koppal
|Shreyas H S
Daijiworld Media Network
Koppal, Mar 29: Confidence and courage can defy any physical disability and enable one to achieve goals that most others dream only of. In the Lok Sabha election season, while some of the senior leaders vying for tickets had to face disappointments, here is a special candidate from Aam Aadmi Party who has been selected to represent the Koppal constituency. What makes Shivakumar N Tontapura special is the fact that he is visually-impaired, the only such candidate in the state.
But politics is not new to Shivakumar N Tontapura. Breaking the shackles of physical disability, he strongly established his identity even before he was inducted into AAP. He stood as an Independent candidate during the last parliamentary elections in 2009 with an aim to demand reservation for the differently-abled in politics. He managed to garner 5,000 votes. As per the recent data, there are 3 crore differently-abled people in the country.
When daijiworld contacted him for an exclusive interview, he unfurled a plethora of ideas for his constituency, spoke about his journey in politics and expressed confidence of winning.
Excerpts from the interview
DW: What in particular inspired you to enter politics?
Shivakumar: Frankly, I entered politics to fight for reservations for the differently-abled that has not been considered even after 67 years of Independence. According to the current data available there are as many as 3 crore differently-abled persons in the country who are deprived of opportunities in politics. We are totally sidelined. Are we not human beings? So when I contested in 2009, this was the sole reason that inpired me to stand as an Independent candidate from Koppal.
DW: Have your aims and dreams taken a different shape after your association with AAP, a party that has created ripples in the country?
Shivakumar: The earlier motto has not changed and never will. But being a staunch party worker my responsibilities have doubled, and together with demanding reservations for the differently-abled, I now have more reasons to contest. AAP has touched a chord with the people, giving new life to dead hopes and aspirations of the people who are fed up with the unhealthy governance.
DW: What are the key problems pertaining to your constituency, which is one of the most backward districts in the state?
Shivakumar: Unemployment is the biggest burden on our district. As a result youths are either migrating or are left in the lurch, failing to find a suitable, well-paying job. Youths are succumbing to pressure of finding a job and resorting to alcohol as a result. I will leave no stone unturned to generate more employment in the district, while also propagating awareness on agriculture so that more youths actively take part in the traditional way of earning a living.
At the same time, I plan to bring more industries to the district to eradicate the unemployment problem. I do not want to create an illusion by making unrealistic development plans since I understand the limitation of my post. What I primarily need to do is convince the decision makers in Delhi to bring good projects to Koppal.
DW: What made you take up social service?
Shivakumar: The term ‘social service’, according to me, is a wrong term. Everyone at some point of their lives choose a profession, and in a similar manner I have opted for this as my profession. When I was in 8th standard, I was isolated from the class, for the reason that I was far ahead of my classmates. One day, I still remember, all my friends stopped talking to me. Those days I had 50 percent vision. The moment I was cornered, I went to a nearby library and for the next three years I dedicated myself completely to reading. I read around 200-300 books that inspired me to think differently. After I completed my BCom, my father told me I could earn money if I go to the city but not satisfaction. Taking a serious note of his words I came back to Koppal after finishing my studies in Bangalore.
DW: How confident are you of winning the election?
Shivakumar: It is uncertain, but over the years the country under the regime of many governments has failed to witness democracy in its true spirit. Moreover, democracy was only reserved to the rich while the common man has been neglected. So people this time want to choose an alternative party and even in Koppal the same would happen in the forthcoming elections. Common man will win this time.
He urged readers to contribute financially to support his candidature:
Shivakumar Navali Siddappa Tontapur
IFSC: SBHY 0020210