She fought many a battle for people for two decades but when she decided to take the plunge in politics after realising that her effort as a social activist was constrained by several limitations, she received only about 3,500 votes. The AAP candidate in Maharashtra Assembly polls, however, is determined to continue the effort and approach the 2024 election doing everything it takes to make the transformation from the social to the political work. Maha govt formation LIVE Updates
Paromita Goswami’s NGO Shramik Elgar at Mul in Chandrapur district has worked tirelessly on several issues concerning the poor and downtrodden, tribals and non-tribals in the district. Now she is sad that she received an abysmally low number of votes in the contest for the Brahmapuri seat. She, however, only blames herself for it.
“Politics is a different ball game altogether. I decided to contest just seven months ago, so there was very little time at my disposal. I didn’t have the caste advantage too, which is very crucial in our kind of politics. Also, you need to have electioneering machinery comprising an army of workers to work on the ground doing booth management. Being a beginner, I had no experience of it. But I am determined to work on it and approach the 2024 election with that kind of basic preparedness right from this moment,” Goswami told The Indian Express.
Goswami, an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) had fought as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate, was pitted against experienced campaigners like Leader of the Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar of the Congress, Sandip Gaddamwar of the Shiv Sena and Chandrakant Meshram of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA). Wadettiwar won the election beating Gaddamwar by a margin of over 19,000 votes to retain the seat. Goswami came fourth with 3,555 votes behind Meshram, who received 7,445 votes.
An Eisenhower, Ashoka and Yale fellow, Goswami has secured several rightful claims for people like land pattas (documents comprising the name of the legal owner of the land property) under Forest Rights Act, houses, relief against wildlife attacks, educational facilities and justice to rape and caste atrocity victims. She was seen by many as an example of well-meaning people joining politics and was promptly supported by AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, who even came down to address an election rally that saw a much bigger turnout than those witnessed at rallies of many big political leaders. That, however, didn’t lead to Goswami reach even a five-digit number of votes. This despite her personal rapport with hundreds of people in many parts of the constituency over the past 20 years.
What pains Goswami is that even the women for whom she fought a successful battle to have prohibition declared in Chandrapur in 2015 didn’t vote for her. “I am sad about it and really unable to comprehend why this may have happened. Over 90,000 women voted in this electron. The only conclusion I can draw is women don’t vote en bloc. Also, I have struggled for the rights of the Dhivar (fishermen) community but they, too, voted for their community man from VBA. So, the more I think about this the more I am convinced that people want to see you in the typical disposition of a politician when it comes to election. You have to have an army of workers and you must follow the rules of electoral politics because people are used to seeing a politician in that way,” Goswami said.
She, however, admits that her prohibition campaign may have antagonised male voters. “I was confronted on the issue by men at many places,” she says.
Lack of political base for AAP was another of her drawbacks. Goswami isn’t yet decided if she would continue as AAP representative or would go it alone next time.
Goswami was accused of taking help from political opponents of other contestants. She doesn’t refute the allegation. “Yes, they did help me. I welcomed it,” she says.
Goswami is aware that electoral politics needs a lot of money. “I had received over Rs 10 lakh through crowd-funding this time. We are going to have a long three-day meeting of our workers to discuss the future strategy,” Goswami says.