DW BUREAU / ADAMPUR
As a teenager, she worked in the fields, even driving her father’s tractor. She went on to become an actor, and more recently a Tik Tok sensation. But now, the saree-clad, 40-year-old is playing another role – campaigning door to door to dent the citadel of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Phogat against three-time Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, younger son of late Bhajan Lal, from the Adampur assembly constituency.
Bhajan Lal represented the seat eight times in the assembly. While 15 candidates are in the fray from this Jat-dominated constituency that has a voter strength of over 1.60 lakh, the main contest is seen between Phogat and 51-year-old Bishnoi. Phogat, shot to fame via short video-making app Tik Tok, is campaigning from village to village in rural hinterlands.
“I do not treat it as a challenge,” she tells reporters. “When a person sets out to do good, lakhs and crores join him along the way and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the best example of this,” says Phogat.
Attacking Bishnoi, she claimed that he inherited a legacy, but failed to live up to expectations of the people of Adampur.
“You just can’t sit on your family legacy, you have to deliver on the ground. People here are wise, they know where he lived, he was never seen in his constituency,” she said. Phogat has been an actor for past 20 years, but now she is a full-time politician. She was born in a farmer family at Bhutan Kalan in Fatehabad district. “My father is an agriculturist. I have also worked in fields whenever my father used to be away for some work. I have driven a tractor too,” she says. The Tik Tok star who regularly posts her lip-syncing Bollywood songs on the video-sharing app, said “it also helps to beat work-related and other stress”. “Sometimes women are told that they should not do this or that, but my answer is anything that is done with dignity and within limits, no one should have a problem,” she said. Phogat, who was party’s Mahila Morcha state vice-president, said the BJP is a “ray of hope” for women aspiring to join politics. “When they join, they are given responsibilities and you will find them on different positions. Sumitra Mahajan ji, late Sushma Swaraj ji, Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani are only a few examples,” she added. Praising the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state, she said both dispensations have worked for all-round development and brought about a change in the system, “where corruption and favouritism ruled roost earlier”.