Foreign return BJP candidate Nauksham trying to win Punhana voters' heart as 'Mewat's daughter'PTI | Chandigarh | Updated: 12-10-2019 18:30 IST | Created: 12-10-2019 18:30 IST
Contesting the Haryana assembly polls from Punhana seat in Mewat region on a BJP ticket after quitting a lucrative job in London, 27-year-old Nauksham Chaudhary says she owes her plunge into the politics to her "burning desire" to herald development in the backward region. Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which is aspiring to win 75 plus seats in the 90-member assembly, is hoping to bag the Punhana seat in Nuh district of the backward region, traditionally dominated by the opposition.
Only woman and a non-Muslim among the 12 male candidates, mostly Muslims, fighting from the Punhana seat, Nauksham's entry into the fray has spiced up the contest with the daughter of a retired judge father, a Hindu, and senior bureaucrat mother, a Sikh, having earned the sobriquet of "Mewat's daughter". Even the rival Congress candidate Mohd Illyas, while talking of Nauksham's lack of experience in politics, did not hesitate in describing her as "our daughter".
"It is good that she is well educated, she is like our daughter, but in politics you also require experience," said Illyas, while also hinting that she may return abroad if she fails to bag the seat. Seeking to allay the fears, Nauksham calmly said the people knew she had been abroad for four years "and if I have returned, it is for my people".
"If I have shut down and shelved all that I was doing abroad and came here, why would I return? People know I took this decision for my people, so they understand," said Nauksham, who had been living in London, working as a "brand manager" for a multinational firm there. "I gave up an excellent career in the private sector where I had been serving as public relations executive for the biggest brands of the world. I have come back to serve my area which is backward. I want to bring a change for the people of this area, especially in bettering the lives of women," Nauksham told PTI in a telephonic interview, asserting her commitments.
Dismissing fears that she might lose the election, she asserted that she has her roots in the area and she is getting good support from the people who call her "Mewat's daughter", familiar with Meo culture. "They know their own daughter is fighting. This is my native place (she belongs to Pema Khera village in Punhana). My father has been a very senior judge who has been helping people around for 35 years and my mother is senior bureaucrat," she said.
Asserting her commitment to work for the development of Mewat and ameliorating women's condition, Nauksham said, "People in Mewat region have been massively exploited by earlier regimes which treated them as mere vote bank." Nauksham, who said her names means "to forgive", added that during a recent holiday back home at Punhana, she was moved by the plight of women in the region and wished to work for their upliftment.
And politics, she said, gives a wider platform to bring about the change more effectively and on a wider scale. "Mewat region is considered backward, this area is deprived of better educational opportunities. Women will be my priority, they need to be empowered, only then things can change. The youth need good colleges, schools and university and I will strive to bring these to this area," she said.
"My motivation to join politics was to bring about this change. I decided to join the BJP because even when I was abroad, I was impressed with the government's policies and programmes. The way Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister M L Khattar are taking the country and Haryana on the path of development, impressed me," she said. Talking of the support she said she was getting during her seven to eight public meetings during the day, Nauksham said, "Women join my election meetings in large numbers. Some of them even come to meet me at my residence and they are happy to find out that an educated woman is contesting and who can raise their concerns in a better way."
Nauksham did her post graduation in History from Miranda House of the University of Delhi before securing masters degrees in luxury brand management from Milan in Italy and in communications from London. Nauksham, who holds her public meetings clad in a 'salwar kameez' with head covered with a 'dupatta', said she is not unduly perturbed about being a non-Muslim contesting from a Muslim-dominated area.
"This is not about religion. Both Hindus and Muslims want change and want area to witness development, which only the BJP can provide," she asserted. On opponents targeting her for being a greenhorn, she said, "They are right in saying that. I am 27 years old, but you have to begin somewhere".