Aritha Babu was out campaigning for the upcoming Kerala assembly elections when Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited her home in Kayamkulam a few days back. The Indian National Congress (INC) leader reportedly took a detour to visit.
The day saw Gandhi and Babu campaigning together for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), which is up against the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in poll-bound Kerala.
“I am so proud of Aritha and you should also be feeling proud of your daughter as she has been facing many struggles in her life,” Gandhi was quoted telling locals standing nearby.
The 26-year-old is the Congress’s candidate from Kayamkulam, a coastal constituency in Alappuzha district. She first made headlines in 2015 when she became the youngest candidate to get elected to the Alappuzha district panchayat at the age of 21.
Babu, who belongs to the Ezhava community, works as a dairy farmer. She had taken over the work from her father after he fell ill. In her affidavit, Babu declared assets worth Rs 1.89 lakh and Rs 32,000 as liabilities.
“My biggest identity is that I am from Kayamkulam and I understand its problems,” Babu told the media outlets.
This time, she is taking on sitting CPM MLA U Pratibha and Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) candidate Pradeep Lal. The BDJS is an ally of the BJP and draws its support from the OBC Ezhava community.
Ever since the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran had announced the party’s youngest candidate, Babu had been hogging the headlines. Describing her as a ‘model’ candidate, Ramachandran singled her out while announcing the election candidate list.
“She hails from a marginalised community. She sells the milk from her cow every day to make a living and support her family. She spends the rest of her time towards various social and political works,” he said.
Currently a Masters student, Babu has gained status as a youth leader and carved a place for herself in the local politics of Kerala. She had earlier held official positions in the Kerala Students Union and Kerala Youth Congress.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)