Battleground 2024: Women share their struggle and hope in Haryana

Aruna Sudan (right) and Bimla attend the PM’s rally in Ambala Photo: Samreen Wani

As Haryana gears up for elections on May 25, issues concerning women, the treatment of wrestlers, and farmer protests weigh heavily on the minds of the voters.

“Women from villages used to defecate in the open earlier. They also used the chulha (open brick stove used for cooking), which caused them to have lung problems. Only my ‘big brother’ thought about these women and the Muslim women whose husbands abandoned them after uttering talaq thrice,” says Poonam Aggarwal, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) women wing.

Aggarwal is one of the thousands of women who attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden rally at the Police Line grounds in Ambala city on Saturday.

In Kaithal, Pitaso, in her 50s, is visibly upset with the treatment of the farmers by the ruling BJP. She is not going to be swayed by the promises made by any political party. “They all are birds of the same feather,” says Pitaso.

“I will first ask for my rights and for a guarantee to fulfil our demands,” says Pitaso, who is actively involved in the farmer agitation, including the one in Delhi.

Neelam, another farmer from Pai village in Kaithal, is upset at the “injustice” meted out to the farmers. “Only papers are being pushed around; there are no jobs and no MSP (minimum support price) for farmers,” she says.

Modi, who invoked Bharat Mata, Goddess Ambika, and Goddess Manasa Devi at the beginning of his speech in Ambala on Saturday, endorsed the candidature of Banto Kataria from Ambala. Kataria is the widow of Rattan Lal Kataria, former minister of state and two-time member of Parliament from the Ambala constituency. Saturday was also Rattan Lal Kataria’s death anniversary.

“She has been given the ticket after years of political struggle and hard work; do you think this is a small thing for women? We, sisters of Banto Kataria, would like to assure her that we will all ensure her victory,” Aggarwal says as all the party workers around her nod in agreement.

Anil Malik, a farmer from Hisar, recalls watching a recent video of Naina Chautala, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) candidate from Hisar. Naina Singh Chautala is the wife of Ajay Singh Chautala, a Rajya Sabha member and the mother of Dushyant Chautala, the former deputy chief minister of Haryana.

“She spoke about respect for women in that video. When our daughters, wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Vignesh Phogat, were protesting at the Jantar Mantar, the police kicked them with their shoes. No one thought of the pride of women then?”

Last year, Indian wrestlers, a lot of them from Haryana, protested to initiate an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of female athletes by BJP MP and former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Saran Singh. His son is contesting from the Kaiserganj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh on a BJP ticket.

Fifty-five-year-old Neelam from Ambala says the BJP has delivered exactly what it has promised in the past 10 years. Baby, 48, agrees: “It opened the Ram Mandir and we Hindus can now visit that place… As a Hindu, he (Modi) is fulfilling our wishes.”

Neelam’s three sons work in the unorganised sector. When asked how the family manages its finances given the unreliable source of income, she says: “Ho jaata hai (we manage somehow).” All she wants now is a pucca house under the PM Awas Yojana.

Aruna Sudan, 38, feels the BJP government has used public money for all the right policies. “The women’s reservation Bill will benefit women from Haryana because it’s a rural state and women don’t get to exercise their rights here.”


First Published: May 21 2024 | 12:07 AM IST

Source link