Candidates’ wives shed political apathy to hit campaign trail

By Richa Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi : They are apolitical and have been pursuing their independent careers, but the general elections have brought them out on the campaign trail. Wives of several Lok Sabha candidates in the capital are busy for over 20 hours a day, wooing voters on behalf of their husbands.

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The wives are concentrating on women voters who form over 45 percent of Delhi’s electorate.

Promila Sibal, wife of Congress candidate from Chandni Chowk Kapil Sibal, feels that women in her husband’s constituency are more open to her and talk on a variety of issues.

“Chandni Chowk constituency has a large minority population and women feel shy talking to men. So, I am personally managing Sibalji’s campaign in this area and have been holding several all-women meetings, padyatras (marches) and door-to-door campaigns to understand their problems,” Promila told IANS.

“I am a totally apolitical person and have been campaigning to support my husband,” said Promila, who runs her own business the rest of the time. “Believe me, after travelling in Chandni Chowk, I realised even after 60 years of independence we have failed to provide basic amenities to people. The area is so filthy that you find it hard to walk and I cannot imagine how people live there.”

Most of the women campaigning for their husbands have roped in public relations staff to get a feel of issues in the constituencies. As part of their preparation before they hit the campaign trail, they hold meetings with local councillors, block heads and women party workers.

Urmila Mishra, wife of Congress candidate from west Delhi Mahabal Mishra, told IANS: “I have a big team which manages my campaign. I have encircled some specific areas in west Delhi where I meet women, youths and old people. I start at 7 a.m. and campaigning goes on for as long as 12 in the night.

“The issues are the same. People want bijli, pani, safai and sadak (electricity, water, hygiene and roads) in their areas. I tell them until the party is voted to power I am helpless and they should vote in support of the party. Women voters listen to me patiently, discuss their problems and promise to vote for our candidate,” said Mishra, a homemaker.

Preeti Goel, wife of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from New Delhi Vijay Goel, has been listing major issues raised by voters during her campaign to provide feedback to her husband.

“My daughters and I have been campaigning in the constituency for the last one month and we found that a large number of people do not have their voter identity cards. People are troubled by rising prices of essential commodities and unemployment. I do give my feedback to Goelji,” said Preeti, a professor of nutrition and dietetics in Delhi University.

The candidates’ family lives have been turned topsy turvy by the campaign schedules.

“In the last one month I think we have spoken only for an hour. I call him only when there is something very urgent,” Promila Sibal said.

Radhika Maken, wife of Congress candidate from New Delhi Ajay Maken, said: “I really don’t have time to talk to my (three) children, leave aside Ajay. My campaign schedule is jampacked with door-to-door meetings, public gatherings and padyatras. My mother is taking care of the family.”

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])