In a historic win, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Chandana Bauri (30) — wife of a daily wage earner — defeated Sontosh Kumar Mondal of Trinamool Congress (TMC) by over 4,000 votes and gained a foothold in West Bengal’s Saltora constituency. Her win in the Bengal Assembly elections 2021 is noteworthy as Bauri belongs to a humble background.
As per her election affidavit, Bauri, who has three children, owns assets worth Rs 31,985 in cash and bank deposits. She has three goats, three cows (one of them has been gifted by her parents) and a mud house with no toilet. Her husband, Srabon, works as a mason and earns Rs 400 for a day’s work.
Until a few years ago, Bauri had only one dream — to have a toilet in her house. With her election win, things finally look promising.
“We have to walk to the nearby field to relieve ourselves. Last year, we got the first instalment of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin of Rs 60,000, and made two concrete rooms,” she told the media.
Throughout the campaign season, Bauri would leave her house by 8 am every morning in a matador, draped in a saffron sari embellished with lotus prints. She would take her son along.
Srabon has been involved in politics in the past. An advocate of Forward Bloc, he was harassed by TMC workers, after the party came to power in 2011 for the first term. This prompted them to join the BJP. Bauri worked her way up to become the general secretary of the Mahila Morcha of the Uttar Gangajalghati Mondol in 2016, and then one of the general secretaries of Bankura district.
Bauri, who fought from the Saltora constituency, is reserved for Scheduled Castes. Previously, TMC’s Swapan Barui had won the last two times.
"Before the tickets were announced I had no idea that I would be selected as a candidate in the legislative assembly polls. Many people encouraged me to apply for a nomination online, but I did not think I would be able to achieve this feat," she told the media. Bauri’s win sends a positive message to marginalised sections of society and signals women emerging as stronger stakeholders in Indian politics.
TMC registered a massive win in 213 seats out of 292/294 on May 2, 2021, while the BJP scored a distant 77 despite an action-packed, 117-day campaigning led by PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
(Edited by Sanhati Banerjee)