Chandigarh: From Miranda House to Mewat via Milan — 28-year-old Nauksham Chaudhary is creating a stir in one of Haryana’s most backward regions after ditching the world of glitz and glamour for the the hurly burly of politics.
A fashion graduate from Milan, Nauksham is now the BJP candidate from the Punhana assembly seat in Mewat. She has been drawing curious crowds as she goes about campaigning, hoping to win not just hearts but the elections slated for 21 October.
Punhana, however, is a tough nut to crack for the BJP that has never won this Muslim-dominated constituency. Considering the party’s struggles here, Nauksham, whose mother is a Sikh and father a Hindu, has her work cut out.
She points out, though, that she does hail from the region.
“I am from Pema Khera village in Punhana. My father Ram Kumar Chaudhary was the first law graduate from this area who went on to become a judge,” she told ThePrint.
“My paternal uncle was an IPS officer. My mother Ranjit Kaur is a bureaucrat and my maternal uncles too are working in senior positions in the government. While I am proud of being a part of such a locally renowned family, it is unfortunate that there are not many other examples to show like ours. I owe it to the people to return all that they have given to my family.”
Also read: In Haryana Congress manifesto, Rs 10 thali, private sector job quota & old-age pension
The fashion graduate from Milan
Nauksham is a masters in fashion, business and brand management from Milan in Italy, where she went for higher education after graduating from Miranda House in New Delhi.
“The choice was not for me to make. I was asked by the people of this area to contest elections and here I am,” she says of her return. “Whether I win or lose I am not going back to the life I left behind. I will do all that I can for this area which needs educated and progressive people to represent them.”
The BJP candidate had been living in London until last month before landing up in Punhana for the elections.
“The two worlds are poles apart. I was leading an uber-urban existence, moving between skyscrapers, earning in pounds and dollars,” she says. “I had landed a dream job in Singapore, where I was to handle the public relations of some of the top fashion brands in the world. But I decided to leave it all behind and come here to do something more real,” she adds.
“Mewat is among the most backward areas in Haryana and I believe that this is because the politicians of this area have a vested interest in keeping the people of this area uneducated,” says Nauksham. “It makes it easier for them to manipulate voters. This needs to change.”
Also read: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar scripts a political turnaround story Congress can learn from
The candidate drawing crowds
Clad in a salwar kameez with her head covered by a dupatta, Naukham is addressing more than half-a-dozen gatherings in the day. She tells people that she is the daughter of this area and that she has come to demand her right over the love of people here.
“Will you not give me what is rightfully mine as a daughter of this place?” she asks the crowd, as they raise their hands in appreciation and promise.
“Campaigning is tough. But my experience being on the stage in Miranda House Delhi is helping me. I have participated in a large number of parliamentary debates as a student,” she says. “Then I took to play writing and acting on stage. That helped me gather confidence. And here even when I am addressing a gathering of 4,000-5,000 people, mostly men, I don’t feel odd.”
Nauksham also concedes that not everyone in her rallies is interested solely in her politics. “There may be a few people, who come to listen to me out of sheer curiosity, to see what I look like. But the majority listen to what I say and is judging me on what I am promising and my sincerity,” she adds.
“My presence here as a candidate is drawing women also out of their homes, which is not very often. I’m glad this is happening and I hope they look upon me as an inspiration.”
The BJP candidate is confident she can break the religion fixation of voters in the area. “The fact that I am a candidate here is the beginning of that change. Religion should not be the basis of politics. I am addressing people both in Urdu and Hindi and I am careful that I don’t say anything that hurts anyone,” she says. “It is a bit tricky as a single wrong word here or there can hurt a lot of feelings. I have to weigh every word and then speak. I am doing my best, the rest is up to the people.”
Also read: A spurned satrap & burning egos — warning signs Congress ignored in Haryana for 5 yrs