Haryana Assembly elections are in full swing and one of the candidates who has caught everyone’s attention is Nauksham Chaudhary. From PM Narendra Modi himself to Actress and MP Hema Malini, everyone is rooting for the 28-year-old political greenhorn. Chaudhary, who grew up between Chandigarh and Delhi with her ancestral roots in Mewat, surprisingly never really visited her village, Damakheda which is a kilometer away from Mewat. And when she did, admittedly so, she couldn’t go back to her plush life and wanted to bring change to the backward region of Mewat. Up against the three-time Congress MLA Mohammad Ilyas in a Muslim-majority area, BJP has pinned its hopes on Chaudhary, who is riding on her foreign education and promises of development and education.
Here are the excerpts from a conversation that SheThePeople.TV had with Nauksham Chaudhary:
What motivated you to join politics?
My parents have been a part of bureaucracy as my mother is in administrative services and my father is a senior judge. I had come to visit them and while returning, I realized that I come from one of the most backward areas in the country and while I have got foreign education I did coming from here, and I must do something to uplift my people. That’s when I decide to join politics.
I never thought about joining politics earlier as I always thought that I studied abroad and had a good career in the corporate sector to look forward to.
What made you switch from your private sector career dream to politics?
I lived all my life in Chandigarh and Delhi and then I moved abroad. I lived in Italy for a year after which I was in London for three years. So I never thought of joining politics, but the political scenario is such in India that when I understood how exploitative it is, then I had to quit my career and make the switch.
How did you choose which party you had to join?
I started as a ground-level worker with BJP as I went to my village to meet people. I joined at the district level. In terms of candidacy, I was chosen by the people around. I raised my voice that I wanted change and development in my area, it somehow reached the upper command and thus I was in the queue for candidature.
Dignitaries of the party including the Prime Minister himself and the other top MPs have rallied for you, how does that make you feel?
It is more so because of the region because Mewat accommodates 85 percent Muslims and only 15 percent Hindu community and I am a Hindu candidate. So the fact that Hindus and Muslims are coming together to vote in the election for a Hindu candidate is a new challenge. I have taken it upon myself and people from all sections of the society have been extremely supportive. It has become like a big Karwaan which I never imagined when I started off.
We have a very small percentage of women politicians in our country so how challenging is politics for women who don’t come from a dynasty?
Of course, women have to work twice as hard but once you enter you have to develop on that. I also believe that the gates of politics are opening up for women now. I am rooting in my own area for women’s development, empowerment and upliftment as the condition of women in Mewat is unimpressive. And I understand how to deal with the delicate issues and to understand what to highlight and what to underplay.
What expertise do you bring to the table when it comes to Mewat in particular?
The quality of education available here is poor and electricity is the bare minimum and because I am educated and have three Masters degrees, changing that is my priority. I am bringing my competence and my calibre to the table. My focus is to gain the confidence of my electorate that yes I can do it despite the fact that I am a woman, and that I am a Hindu candidate doesn’t matter.
Children and women’s health is deeply impacted by certain community-based practices leading to fatal conditions like anemia, diarrhea etc. How do you aim to curb it?
Repetitive pregnancies and abortions are a major setback when it comes to women’s health here, that also causes low haemoglobin. I intend to take up women’s health very seriously. Our centers should be provided with an adequate number of doctors. Another issue is that there are only three ambulances in the area and there are so many villages where people cannot travel to the hospitals because it costs them around Rs 1500 – 2000.
Here, there is no education and electricity is bare minimum and because I am educated and have three Masters degrees so I am going to bring a powerful tool of education and independence of a developmental thought that yes I can do it
How is your strategy, fighting against such an experienced and well-known politician, Mohammad Ilyas, in the area?
He is a very old and very known political leaders from the area and he has his own vision and I have my own. But the real support comes from the voters. For him, politics is a legacy but for me, I come from a non-political bureaucratic background so my strengths are different from his. So it is not about how I am dealing with him as for me it is a new field and I am trying my best and we’ll see what happens.
Picture credit- Nauksham Chaudhary