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Nayana Motamma, the newly-elected MLA from Karnataka’s Mudigere and a former lawyer, has responded to a 'slander campaign' by supporters of her political opponents based on her clothing choices and personal life.
Nayana Motamma, the newly-elected Congress MLA from Karnataka’s Mudigere (Scheduled Castes-reserved) constituency, has given a sharp response to supporters of her political opponents, who allegedly attempted to ‘malign’ her by circulating visuals from her personal life in which she is seen wearing dresses, athleisure and other attire different from the sarees she wore while campaigning for the election, and perceived as non-traditional clothing for a woman politician. According to Nayana, a day before the Karnataka Assembly elections were held on May 10, and soon after her victory was declared on May 13, certain groups associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circulated the visuals on Facebook and WhatsApp.
“It was basically about the dressing culture — the [narrative was that] that I’m portraying myself as a saree-clad woman, when ‘this’ is what I’m ‘actually’ doing,” said Nayana, describing the attempted ‘slander campaign.’ Nayana said some of the visuals showed her spending time with her husband and friends, some in a swimming pool, some showing a liquor bottle lying nearby — all photographs that she herself had previously shared on her social media accounts. Nayana said the videos have since been taken down from BJP Shivamogga’s Facebook page after her team filed a police complaint.
In response to such detractors, on May 20, Nayana herself shared some of the visuals circulated by them — in which she is seen dancing, running, and taking selfies — juxtaposing them with visuals from her political activities. “Don't let the frustration of my defeat haunt you further. Yes...politics, me, myself, and my personal life is the answer for those fools who don't know the difference,” Nayana said.
ಸೋಲಿನ ಹತಾಶೆ ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನ ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ಕಾಡದಿರಲಿ.
ಹೌದು... ರಾಜಕೀಯ, ನಾನು, ನನ್ನತನ, ನನ್ನ ವೈಯುಕ್ತಿಕ ಜೀವನ ಇವೆಲ್ಲದರ ವ್ಯತ್ಯಾಸ ತಿಳಿಯದ ಅವಿವೇಕಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಉತ್ತರವಿದು. pic.twitter.com/04RJWUFeoH
Speaking about her decision to put out the video, the former corporate lawyer, and National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and University of Pennsylvania alumna told TNM, “This is something I’ve always been clear about. My personal life is my personal life, and I keep it out (of my political work). I show people that this is how I live… There’s nothing for me to hide.”
She further said, “They did it one day before the day of voting (on May 10). I don’t know [exactly who it was] between BJP and JD(S), they came out with a video that [had a narrative of] ‘nari with sari’, and then I’m supposedly doing all these things (dancing, running, taking selfies, attending social gatherings). I was already prepared for it. I knew that is the only narrative they can give about me, they have nothing else to counter me. But I’m not gonna take it lying down…”
She also questioned how her personal life affects her job as a legislator. “Am I unable to perform my job because I wear certain clothes? As a lawyer, I would wear corporate clothes when meeting with a client. When I'm in my personal space, I can wear what I want and eat what I want to, as long as I behave responsibly.”
“If I wanted to wipe out all these things, I would have removed them from my social media. I have kept it there so that people know what my personality is. I’m not shirking my work or responsibilities because I have a social life,” she added.
Nayana, who completed her Master's degree in law from the University of Pennsylvania, has been a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur in the past. She had practised in the Karnataka High Court prior to the elections. The 43-year-old is the youngest woman legislator in the present Karnataka Assembly. Her mother Motamma, a senior Congress leader in Karnataka, is the first woman to be Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council and has also served as state Minister for Women and Child Welfare.
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