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TikTok star Sonali Phogat gets BJP ticket to take on 3-time Haryana MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi

With nearly 1.20 lakh followers, Sonali Phogat is a sensation on short video app TikTok. She faces a tough electoral battle against Bishnoi in his stronghold.

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New Delhi: Many of the organisations associated with the BJP are not very fond of short video app TikTok. Some even want a ban on it. The Modi government has itself expressed concern over the app. So when the party announced its candidates for Haryana assembly elections, one name stood out — TikTok star Sonali Phogat.

With around 1.20 lakh followers, Phogat is a sensation on the app that has gained massive currency in the country in the past few months. Since joining the platform in July 2018, Phogat has made over 175 videos in which she can be waving her saree along beaches, or cycling in gyms, or crooning songs like Thug Ranjha.

On Thursday, Phogat, who is also the state vice-president of BJP’s Mahila Morcha, made it to the list of celebrities that the party has fielded for the Haryana assembly elections — prominent among them are wrestler Babita Phogat and Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt.

The party, which has drawn criticism for ignoring its own dedicated cadre, has fielded the TikTok star from Adampur assembly constituency. The battle ahead won’t be easy for her as she takes on Congress candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal.

Phogat will face the biggest fight of her young political career as the constituency has remained a stronghold for the Lal family for over five decades. Political experts suggest Phogat has been given a ticket for this seat despite her desire to fight from Nalwa, because no one else was willing to take on Bishnoi who has been representing the constituency for three consecutive terms.

On her way to file nomination Friday, Phogat, however, exuded confidence that she would defeat her opponent.

“My party gives me the strength to work. I’m sure we’ll win this election,” ANI quoted Phogat as saying.

Phogat had been cultivating the Nalwa constituency for the last few years. But the party has put up Ranbir Gangwa from the seat.

Who is Sonali Phogat?

Sonali Phogat was born into a peasant family in the Fatehabad district of Haryana.

Before her foray into politics, the 40-year-old was a television actress. She played a small role in a Zee TV show titled Amma.

Speaking to ThePrint, Phogat said she has also worked for Doordarshan as an anchor in Hisar, and has also worked with Bollywood actor Jimmy Sheirgill.

Phogat said she has been in politics for over a decade, but seriously pursued the electoral bid only in the last few years. In 2016, her husband Sanjay Phogat — who was also associated with the BJP — died under reportedly mysterious circumstances.

Phogat is currently the director of government-run Haryana Kala Parishad in the Hisar zone.

She has a 10-year-old daughter.

Phogat told ThePrint that she will start campaigning soon. “It’s not that I am active on apps like TikTok only. I have been on the ground for the last few years. I am glad that I have been given this opportunity by the party.”

Haryana will vote on 21 October in a single-phase election. The counting will take place on 24 October.

Also read: Sportspersons, 11 turncoats in BJP’s first list of 78 candidates for Haryana elections


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