New Delhi: With just Rs 6,335 in her bank account and Rs 25,650 cash in hand, and without any movable or immovable assets, meet 30-year-old Chandana Bauri, who is the wife of a daily wage labourer and BJP’s candidate from Bengal’s Bankura district’s Saltora Assembly constituency.
Chandana started working as a BJP cadre in Saltora from the 2018 Panchayat elections in the state and later rose to be a part of the BJP’s Bankura district committee. And now she has been handed a ticket by the BJP to contest the Assembly elections in West Bengal.
When she first heard the news that she had been declared BJP’s candidate from Saltora, where she was married off at the age of 15 years in 2008, her eyes were filled with tears of joy.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Chandana Bauri said, “I was never expecting that someone like me could ever get a ticket from the party. I was doing my household chores when my neighbours came running to my house after seeing my name had been declared as the party’s candidate from here. At first, I did not believe the news and then I got a confirmation from my district leaders, after which I believed it. I cannot thank my party leaders enough for reposing so much faith in me.”
Bauri, who is a mother to three children—two daughters and a son—was married off at the age of 15 after her father passed away. Her husband Sraban is a mason, who works at construction sites as a daily wage labourer, earning somewhere between Rs 300 to Rs 400 a day.
“I got married at a very young age. My father passed away just two days before my Madhyamik (Class 10) examinations and I barely managed to pass with third division marks. My mother married me off after my examinations, but even then, I continued to study. I appeared for Class 11 examinations and passed, but during Class 12 examinations, I was pregnant and my eldest daughter was born so I could not study. Since then, I have been raising kids and at times helping my husband at the construction site so that we can earn a little extra money,” Bauri told this newspaper.
Chandana, who generally looked after her children and cooked food at home, would also help her mother-in-law at times to make saal pata plates (plates made from saal leaves). These saal pata plates are made after collecting the fallen saal leaves from the nearby forest and are later sold at very cheap rates in the market.
By way of “assets”, Chandana owns just three goats, two cows and a calf—out of these, one of the cows was given to her by her parents when she got married. Bauri lives in a small house made of mud and does not own any land. Her house does not have running water and she has to walk for miles to fetch drinking water. She does not even have a toilet at home. She says that they have to go the nearby field to relieve themselves in the wee hours.
“We live in a small mud house and we do not even have drinking water here. The roads here are in a poor shape. It takes hours for us to reach the hospital if someone falls ill. My priority when I win will be to give better roads to the people of my constituency and provide drinking water to every household. I will also speak to my leaders to ensure that the healthcare facility of my area is also given priority.”
Asked if she had applied for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to get a pucca house, she said, “I had applied for that, but the TMC leaders had scammed me. In my application papers, the bank account that was attached was of the local TMC leader and the money which came from the Central government was pocketed by them through their account.”
She also assured all her voters that she and her party would ensure that all Central government schemes were implemented once the BJP came to power.
Asked how she was managing to campaign for the upcoming elections considering she has a family to look after and also does not have any money, she said, “Earlier, I used to look after my children, but now my mother-in-law is taking care of them. For finances, all my party leaders are helping me. The dadas here are very nice, they have always been very supportive of me since they know about my financial condition. Also, the party has sent some money into my account for campaigning; that should be enough.”
She further added that her husband who is also a member of the BJP and has been a polling agent for the party, is her biggest pillar of strength who has been supporting her throughout her political journey.
Not only Chandana, the BJP on Thursday gave ticket to a 32-year-old domestic help, Kalita Majhi from Bengal’s Burdwan district.
Majhi will contest from the Ausgram Assembly constituency. Her husband too is a daily wager and works as a plumber. Majhi has one child who studies in Class 8 at the local government school.
Kalita Majhi has been an active member of the BJP and had also contested the panchayat elections in 2018. On Friday, through a social media post, she requested the Prime Minister to come to her constituency to campaign for her.