At Sarasawati Vatika in Charkhi Dadri, over 500 women assembled on Saturday to hear star wrestler Babita Phogat, who is the BJP candidate from the constituency for the upcoming Haryana Assembly elections.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, the two-time gold medalist at Commonwealth Games said she wanted to add ‘Beti khilao’ so that daughters of the state win medals for India.
Phogat is among the twelve women candidates fielded by the saffron party in the elections. And Phogat knows how to influence women voters.
“Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the slogan of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. I want to add Beti khilao so that daughters of the state win medals for India. Today, there is need for women empowerment. I request you all to educate and empower your daughter,” Babita said amid huge applause from the ghoonghat-clad women.
With less than a week left for the polls, Babita looks far more confident than she was on the day she joined the BJP. And with PM Modi scheduled to attend a rally in Charkhi Dadri, Babita hopes it will brighten her chances.
“Confidence comes with people’s support. People have blessed me and it has given me strength to fight my opponents. I am thankful to the prime minister as he is campaigning for me. It is an honor for this constituency also that a great leader like Modi is coming here,” Babita told indianexpress.com.
However, her top opponent Satpal Sangwan, a two-time MLA, who is contesting the elections this time on Dushyant Chatala’s JJP ticket, believes it is a one-sided contest. “See Charkhi Dadri is my constituency. I do not want to sound overconfident and neither I am taking Babita lightly. But you ask anyone here, and they will tell you Satpal Sangwan is the first choice of people,” said Sangwan while talking to indianexpress.com.
When asked about BJP’s phenomenal performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections in Haryana and how much impact Modi’s rally will have in Dadri, Sangwan said, “State and Lok Sabha polls are different. And as far as Modi’s rally is concerned, whether Modi comes, Yogi Adityanath comes or Amit Shah comes, yahoo bas Sangwan hi Sangwan hai.”
Though Sangwan is high on confidence, many in the region are skeptical. “See, he has a history of switching parties. First he was in Congress, now he has switched side to join Chautala. We are not sure if he will stay with the JJP for long,” says a businessman in Dadri main road.
Dadri has become a triangular contest with former BJP leader Sombir Sangwan contesting as an independent. The BJP gave ticket to Babita and ignored Sombir’s long association with the party and his work in the region. His supporters argued that he was far more experienced than Babita.
“Neither Babita, nor Satpal, Somber Sangwan is our first choice,” says Pawan, who runs a tea stall. “See in this constituency, Babita is an outsider. She is from Balali which is in Bhiwani. People here know Sombir. Its a region of Sangwans. How can the BJP even think that Babita will win from here,” argues Ashok sitting in his hardware shop.
However, when asked about the ‘outsider tag’, Babita was quick to respond that people call her the daughter of India. “I played for my country, people called me the daughter of India. Nobody considered me an outsider. Today also I can only tell those calling me an outsider that I am the daughter of this state, I am the daughter of 36 castes.”
With two Sangwan and one Phogat in fray, people in Charkhi Dadri appear a little confused as to who they see as their future MLA. But the constituency certainly will throw an exciting poll battle.
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