Woman wants to bike her way to Haryana legislature

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Rohtak (Haryana) : At a time when politicians in patriarchal Haryana do not hesitate to show off their luxury SUVs and cars during electioneering, a woman contestant of the ruling Congress in the state is happy to run her campaign for the assembly polls on a motorbike.

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Shakuntala Khatak, who has been allotted the Congress ticket for the Kalanaur constituency (reserved for the Scheduled Castes) in this district, does not want to change her image of being a ‘commoner’ in the electoral fray for the Oct 13 polls.

At most places where she campaigns and addresses rallies, Khatak prefers to ride her black-coloured Hero Honda Passion motorbike. She drives the bike herself to these places even though most of her party supporters follow on cars and SUVs.

“I prefer to campaign on the bike. Sometimes, you have to go in big cars but the motorcycle works better for me,” said Khatak, 41, a staff nurse at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak.

Having used the motorcycle while going for work and political activities, Khatak has earned the image of being an avid biker. “For me, the motorcycle is like a Safari (an SUV brand). It is also lucky for me,” she said.

During her campaign, Khatak rides the motorbike with two Congress party flags fluttering from her steering handle.

Khatak says she had driven her motorcycle even to rallies addressed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his wife Asha Hooda are said to have ensured the party ticket for Khatak for the Kalanaur seat despite other leaders vying for it. The seat was represented by former Haryana health minister Kartar Devi in the previous assembly. Kartar Devi died in August following prolonged illness.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])