The story of Kanchan Choudhari Bhattacharya, the country’s first woman DGP and best known for Udaan, has taken flight again, this time politically. She is the Aam Aadmi Party candidate for Haridwar.
Shown in the 1980s on Doordarashan National, the popular and highly acclaimed Udaan was a series based on Kanchan’s real-life struggle after her father’s land had been forcibly taken and her family sent back when it tried to file an FIR in Amritsar. That incident became a turning point in her life and she became an IPS officer in 1973. The resolve to get the uniform, she would later say, was born out of the police’s refusal.
Kanchan, who retired from the IPS six years ago, has plunged into her new role and started campaigning.
Draped in a brown cotton saree and wearing the AAP’s trademark cap, she reaches Narsan in a Logan. Her supporters greet her warmly with garlands and slogans.
“Main samajh nahin pati hu ki hamare desh ki ladkiyan kitna tarakki karna chahte hai, par hum unhe asuraksha ka mahaul dete hai (Our girls want to progress, but we offer them an unsafe atmosphere,” she says, referring to law and order in Haridwar, which has seen the rape and murder of an SC girl.
The former DGP then promises that her top priority will be women’s security. She also stresses the need for construction of toilets in villages, particularly for women. “Our women and girls wait for the sunset to answer nature’s call. But nobody is bothered about them,” she says.
Haridwar has a high number of sugarcane farmers and she talks also about their problems. She urges people to vote only for a candidate who they are convinced will be fearless and who has only the electorate’s welfare in mind.
She concludes her speech with, “Meri bat pahuncha do. Bhrastachar mukta shashan chahiye (Spread my message. There is need for a corruption-free government.”
She refrains from making any disparaging comment against her rival BJP candidate, former chief minister Ramesh Chandra Nishank Pokhriyal. “I don’t believe in personal attacks. This is about issues,” she replies to a question about her stated decision not to say anything against her rivals. The Congress has not yet declared its candidate for Haridwar, which was won by Harish Rawat in 2009.
Asked about her decision to join the AAP, she replies: “The AAP stands for no-corruption and the rights of the common man”.
Married to Dev Bhattacharya, Kanchan has two daughters, Kanika and Kaveri.