Rahul Gandhis rally in Churu district last week made headlines as the Congress vice-president spoke of his own stories of loss. The rally,however,was significant for another reason: it was here that Commonwealth gold medalist discus thrower Krishna Poonia made a rather low-key entry into the Congress and mainstream politics.
Poonias entry,which is being seen as a counter to BJPs induction of ace shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore,is a well-thought plan for Churus Sadulpur constituency that has been a Congress bastion for decades but was taken over by the BJP in the last Assembly elections.
The seat was held by Congress candidate Inder Singh Poonia for three consecutive elections 1985,1990 and 1993. In 1998,BJPs Ram Singh won the seat but it went back to the Congresss Nand Lal Poonia in 2003. In 2008,BJPs Kamla Kaswan won it back for her party.
Poonias hold sway in the constituency,where 75 per cent of the voters are Jats and a considerable number of Muslims,approximately 15,000,show a Congress leaning. The constituency borders Haryana and several women from across the border are married into families in Churu and vice versa. Krishna Poonia,who is already a celebrity in the district,is expected to draw women voters too.
A native of Agroha in Hissar district of Haryana,Poonia was married into a prominent family in Rajgarh in Churu district. Along with her sporting activity,for years she worked on social causes in the state battling female foeticide,child marriage and dowry but chose to stay behind the scenes. It was only in the recent months that she felt a pressing urge to enter mainstream politics.
I am myself from a small village and I know what the needs of the villagers are. Im connected to the village youth and women and that helps me to understand them better. This country has given me so much in terms of opportunity and appreciation and it is now my responsibility to give back to society. That is what I hope to be able to do by entering mainstream politics, Poonia told The Indian Express over phone from Ludhiana.
Poonia says she has an edge over other politicians. Sportspersons have no differences among each other. They can work even with their rivals. I think this spirit is much required in politics today, she said. Everyone says politics is a dirty business but unless honest people come in,there will never be a change.
Poonia said the reason behind her joining the Congress is Rahul Gandhi. I was influenced by Rahul Gandhi to join the Congress and also leaders like Bhupendra Singh Hooda and Ashok Gehlot. This party made Sachin Tendulkar a Rajya Sabha MP and has now given me an opportunity to work for them too. In my capacity I will try to rope in as many sportspersons as possible to campaign for me if I do get a ticket.
As for her candidature,Poonia said for now she is just a party worker and will accept whatever the party decides. I am not seeking any ticket. It is entirely the partys decision. I am here to work for them and that is all I will do.