Jannayak Janta Party’s (JJP) Swati Yadav, who was the lone female candidate of her party during the LS polls, has now joined the BJP on Saturday ahead of the Haryana assembly elections. The 30-year-old youth leader took this step during a meeting chaired by former Madhya Pradesh CM and president of BJP’s membership committee Shivraj Singh Chouhan to launch the party’s national membership programme.

She was the Lok Sabha candidate of JJP from her home constituency Bhiwani-Mahendragarh who lost to BJP’s Dharambir Singh. While Yadav was earlier campaigning against the BJP leader, she will now be seen working along with him in the upcoming state elections.

The politician spoke to SheThePeople.TV about joining BJP, women’s role in her campaigning, issues that concern women, digital literacy and more in a telephonic interview. On joining BJP, she said, “My entry into politics was sudden and I ran a Lok Sabha campaign on issues that were close to my heart whether that be education, healthcare, agriculture, water, etc. The campaign was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, we worked for 18-20 hours every day and I became very attached to the people of my constituency.

I am determined to continue my efforts to solve issues faced by the people of my constituency. I see the same determination in BJP and especially Modi ji, I am for India First. India and China were at the same level of development in 1950. Then why is it that China has become a superpower and India has not reached the same league. We can do it and we have to do it, and I think BJP is the right party with the leadership and vision to make India a superpower.”

Yadav completed her school from Delhi and then moved to the US for a decade to do her graduation in B.Sc (Electrical Engineering) from Clemson University and MBA from The Georgia Institute of Technology before returning to India in 2016. After coming to India, she is serving as the Director of Euro Group Of Schools comprising 12 schools. She comes from a political background as her father, Satbir Nautana, is a local political leader who was earlier with regional party Indian National Lok Dal. He then shifted to JJP.

On coming back to India and joining politics

Talking about coming back to India and joining politics, she said, “I wanted to work within the social service realm and providing education to all sphere is one way of doing it. Electoral politics is one crucial domain that allows one to reach out to more people and help them especially if you are a youth and a woman. There are changes that only young women leaders can make because those are the challenges that they have faced.”

Swati Yadav
Swati Yadav with the women of Bhiwani-Mahendragarh constituency

Women leaders receive flak for shifting parties

On asking if women receive more flak for jumping political parties than men, Yadav said, “There are two sides to it as on one side people are more attached to women leaders as they see their sister or mother in them. But on the other side there are also those people who jump the gun and belittle the women leaders as they are an easy prey. Such people don’t think that there could be any repercussions of pointing fingers at a woman leader.”

Reaching out to women was an issue during LS Polls

While campaigning for the LS polls, Yadav,  did not raise women’s issue. Speaking to us about it she said, “One of the major issue that happens during canvassing is that not many women turn up for the campaign. So it gets difficult to raise women concerns in front of men who are not bothered about it. Despite that we reached out to a lot of women by doing door-to-door campaign and we tried to identify the issues that concern them.”

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Challenges women face in her constituency

The biggest challenges that women face in the constituency is related to water and education, she stated. “The village women in my constituency have to travel at least a kilometre every day in the morning and in the evening to get water because they don’t have water supply in their homes. Secondly, they have to send their children to study in nearby villages wherever there is a government school which is a big issue for girl child in particular. Several times the children have to manage the commute on their own. Thirdly, we don’t have enough hospitals in the constituency and general women’s hygiene isn’t talked about in the villages, which is another challenge.”

How she tackles issues women face?

She claimed that she has been tackling these issues for now by having sensitisation and awareness workshops and campaigns through her NGO, named after her great-grandmother, ‘Champa Foundation’ which she started this year itself. “We do workshops for underprivileged children and women specifically. Just two days back we had an event on digital awareness where we had over 300 women who attended it. We had experts who taught them how to report cyber-crimes to the police, the laws to tackle such crimes and their rights,” she added.

“Different women have different issues. This specific workshop was conducted specifically for working women because they are the ones who have more interface with digital technology but because of the massive inflow of free internet, every other person in the village has free internet”

Digital literacy and women living in villages

On asking if the women in the village have enough access to digital devices, she said, “Different women have different issues. This specific workshop was conducted specifically for working women because they are the ones who have more interface with digital technology but because of the massive inflow of free internet, every other person in the village has free internet.

They may not know how to use it but they know how to watch videos on it so that also makes them easy prey to cyber bullying etc. This is why these campaigns are of relevance to everyone. It is more relevant to women who have less digital education because they only know how to press play and pause. They don’t know much about the kind of content they should consume and not consume. Child pornography is becoming a prevalent crime in recent times.”

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