Ahmedabad, March 19 : Declaring that she was not a political person but spoke for the people in Gujarat and the rest of the country, noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai announced Thursday that she would contest the Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate from Gandhinagar to take on BJP's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani.
"A fight has to be worth a fight when someone takes on a personality like L.K. Advani. I have been brought up in Gujarat so it was obvious that I would have chosen Gandhinagar to contest the Lok Sabha polls," Sarabhai said at a press conference at her Darpana Academy on the banks of the Sabarmati river here.
The Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi exponent has been a staunch critic of Chief Minister Narendra Modi since the 2002 Godhra riots in which nearly 1,500 people were killed.
The firebrand danseuse, who has been taking up the cause of the riot victims, was also the first to file a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against the BJP government's alleged role in fomenting communal violence across Gujarat.
Taking a dig at Advani, Sarabhai said it was her privilege that she was contesting against a 'prime minister in waiting'.
"I stand as a Gujarati and a patriotic Indian to reclaim politics back from politicians. I am contesting from Gandhinagar but I think I also represent the women of Mangalore, the farmers of Nandigram and Yavatmal and the victims of Kandhamal."
Since 1984, various parties had offered her tickets to contest the polls but she always said no. "However, after 24 years, it's the people of Gujarat who have urged me to contest polls."
She said she was no 'third force', but just had an alternative view of politics -- which meant there was need to reclaim democracy for the people of the entire country.
"Advaniji says his biggest achievement in his political career had been the 1989 Rath Yatra. The people in Gujarat have been manipulated and intimidated by the powers-that-be for years. I am not siding with any political party as there is no political party in India which is free of criminilisation, corruption and bickering."
In her view, there was no freedom of expression in the country.
"Nobody listens to the people and that's where I needed to fight with the banner of 'Friends for Democracy' in the Lok Sabha polls. It was social activists and people of the state who asked me to contest polls. I am not a political person. I am just standing for the rights of the people of Gujarat and the country."
Discussing the expenses involved in fighting a poll, she said: "I am asking every citizen in the country to contribute Rs.10 and become a part of the contributing stream to get back the people's democracy by supporting her as a candidate for the Lok Sabha polls."