Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Babita Phogat, who is making her debut in ‘political dangal’ with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming state assembly polls, is advocating promotion of women’s sports in the state.
She aims to rechristen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme by incorporating ‘Beti Khilao’ in it with an aim to not only overcome the problem of decline in child sex ratio but also promote sports among women in villages.
Babita, BJP’s candidate from Dadri, is pitted against ex-serviceman Nirpender Singh Sangwan of the Congress, BJP rebel and Independent Sombir Sangwan (52) and Indian National Lok Dal’s breakaway faction Jannayak Janata Party’s (JJP) Satpal Sangwan, a Congress rebel.
Besides Babita, the others in the fray are veteran politicians belonging to the Jat community.
While Nirpender and Satpal are former legislators, Sombir finished second in the 2014 assembly polls.
As per election records, no candidate has ever won the seat for the second consecutive term and every time the competition has been close.
In the last four assembly elections, the margin of votes of the winner has been a slender — less than 2,000.
With folded hands, Babita — in her dawn-to-dusk campaigning — is highlighting Modi’s programmes and achievements of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“When you are representing a country in international competition, the country’s prestige is at stake. In the political battleground ,too, it is the prestige of the party that is at stake, she told IANS.
“For me highlighting the achievements of the BJP governments, both in the Centre and state, is my top priority.
“In my priorities, the focus will be on strengthening infrastructure, basic amenities, healthcare for all and transparency in local administration, besides sports”, she added.
Being a sportsperson, Babita said if she is voted to power, she would advocate for starting a new campaign in the state, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Beti Khilao’ or ‘save the daughter, educate the daughter and promote sports for the daughter’ to promote sports among the girls.
She does not believe in gunning her political rivals. “When you have achievements, propagate them publically,” she said.
Hailing the government decision to abrogate Article 370 and 35-A, she is telling the voters, “It’s a historic decision.”
On the local issues, she is not forgetting to remind the electorates — largely in small meetings with villagers –that the BJP government in the state brought “people closer to the administration by carving out a new district Charki Dadri from Bhiwani.”
“Now, you can get your administrative work done at your doorsteps,” she said at a corner meeting over a cup of tea in a village just on the outskirts of Dadri town.
Is politics a new battleground for you? At this she replies, “No”. “Politics is not new for my family. My mother was a sarpanch (village head) for long time.”
The Prime Minister at a public rally in Dadri on Monday said Chinese President Xi Jinping — during his recent visit to India — told him that he had watched the Aamir Khan-starrer “Dangal”.
“I felt really proud of Haryana on hearing this,” Modi added.
“We feel elated when Prime Minister Modi praised our daughter (Babita) from the stage. We are sure she will get a berth in the state Cabinet if she gets elected,” said a middle-aged woman villager Radha Sangwan.
Somvir Sangwan, who contested the 2014 Assembly election on the BJP ticket, had lost by a thin margin of 1,610 votes to INLD’s Rajdeep Phogat.
Babita’s father Mahavir Singh Phogat, who later joined the JJP, is not contesting the election. He is campaigning for his party’s candidate.
The total electorates in the Jat-dominated Dadri assembly constituency are 193,882, including 89,213 women.
Haryana will go the polls in a single phase for 90 assembly seats on October 21. The counting of ballots will be on October 24.