I will work to empower women: Shruti Choudhary (Interview, With Image)May 31st, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS
By Mayank Aggarwal
New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) She may have come into the public eye after her win in the recent general elections, but debutante MP Shruti Choudhary is a third generation politician who is determined to make a difference in parliament by focusing on issues like female foeticide that continue to plague her home state, Haryana.
Granddaughter of Bansi Lal, known as the strongman of Haryana and former chief minister, and daughter of Kiran Choudhary, minister in the Haryana cabinet, and the late Surinder Singh, also a state minister, Shruti Choudhary is clearly no stranger to the world of politics.
A lawyer by training who has practised in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court, she has her priorities clearly laid out.
“My voice would be the voice of the farmers, as you know Haryana is an agriculture-based state. Another issue which I would address is the problem of female foeticide. I will work to empower women,” the 33-year-old told IANS, confident that she would help improve Haryana’s poor sex ratio of 864 women for 1,000 men. In many districts, one out of four girls is killed before or soon after birth, according to reports.
Choudhary also feels “very strongly” about environmental issues. “Environment is an important issue which needs to be addressed as it is so closely linked with mankind’s existence,” she said.
A graduate in arts from Delhi University and with a law degree from Agra University, Choudhary said she has been dabbling in politics for long.
“I have been campaigning with my father since the age of 16. My father and I used to divide his constituency into half each while campaigning. I have been quite connected with the people of my father’s constituency and have worked with the people at the grassroots level.”
“In fact, when my father died my grandfather put his ‘pagdi’ (turban) on my head, which was a big step. It was even covered by the foreign media,” she said.
“To do that in Haryana, which is male-dominated, in front of 200,000 people was a big step. That was the turning point in my life. Keeping the pagdi on the head is very meaningful, it means you take on whatever is left. All the people were extremely attached to my father. I had to live up to the people’s expectations from my father. ”
In north Indian tradition, a man’s turban is normally handed over to his son after his death, signifying that he would carry the mantle of the family.
“He worked a lot for the people. The people saw me as their own daughter and wanted me to join politics.”
Choudhary’s campaign strategy was to establish direct contact with villages and hold group meetings. “On an average, it used to be 30-35 villages every day but sometimes the number of villages covered would be around 40-45. Big rallies were organised only during the last part of campaigning,” she said.
“My father and grandfather have worked a lot for people. It’s all people’s love for me and my family. It is the people’s victory,” she said.
She credits Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for the party’s electoral triumph.
“He has really worked very hard. He went to the grassroots directly and this is what people actually wanted. He has really galvanised the party cadre and brought the Congress to such a positive stage.”
Choudhary is not interested in social networking websites or travelling in fancy high-end cars. “Anything that moves, has an air conditioner and a music system, is fine for me,” she laughed.
On her habits, she said: “I like reading, writing and listening to Indian classical music. I have been trained in vocal.”
Choudhary, who got married to Delhi-based lawyer Arunabh Choudhary in 2003, also loves the theatre and enjoys going out to watch plays.
Asked if she would use theatre as a medium to spread the message of women’s empowerment in her constituency, she said: “In fact, that has already been done. My mother has done this in her constituency. The actors in these plays belong to the areas and speak to villagers on social issues.”
(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: aggarwal, agra university, bansi lal, chief minister, constituency, debutante, delhi high court, delhi university, female foeticide, four girls, general elections, grassroots level, law degree, mayank, public eye, sex ratio, state minister, strongman, surinder singh, turban