My father did not play any role in getting Lok Sabha ticket for me, says Bihar Minister’s daughter Shambhavi Kunal Choudhary

The 25-year-old who is the daughter of Ashok Choudhary, a Bihar Minister, says she is ready to face all challenges in Samastipur

April 03, 2024 02:28 am | Updated 02:37 am IST

Shambhavi Kunal Choudhary is the youngest Dalit woman to contest the Lok Sabha elections in bihar

Shambhavi Kunal Choudhary is the youngest Dalit woman to contest the Lok Sabha elections in bihar | Photo Credit: Amit Bhelari

Fielded from the reserved seat of Samastipur in Bihar by the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), 25-year-old Shambhavi Kunal Choudhary is the youngest Dalit woman to contest the Lok Sabha election. She holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics and is currently pursuing her PhD from Magadh University. Her father Ashok Choudhary is a Minister in the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet and her grandfather Mahvir Choudhary, from the Congress, has also served as Minister. The third-generation politician will enter the poll battle in Samastipur, which is currently represented by Prince Raj of the Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party led by Pashupati Kumar Paras. Ms. Choudhary said that her father had not played any role in getting the ticket for her and that she was ready to face the election challenge. Excerpts:

What made you take the plunge into politics?

I chose politics because I wanted to make a difference in society and I feel that politics allows you to be an agent of change. You can lead people by example. I come from a political family and, as a child, I always saw my grandfather and father serving the people of their constituencies. They used to meet people every day and listen to their problems. As a child I was awestruck and I always wanted to be that person who is helpful, kind, caring and passionate about serving others.

While you are the daughter of Ashok Choudhary, you have been a largely non-political person. Why should people vote for you?

Being the daughter of a seasoned politician definitely adds to my personality but it’s not the whole of my personality. I feel that I am a well-educated woman who has the capability to lead others. I feel I am somebody who can make wise decisions. I am extremely compassionate, I am extremely sensitive and to be a good politician, the only thing that is required is that you should have sensitivity towards other people’s feelings. You should be capable enough to understand what they are trying to put through. Today, there is pomp and show, but less work done. I want to counter that. I feel I am a modern woman and it’s very important to have young people in politics because they know what the current demands of the youth are.

NDA leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, keep attacking “dynasty politics”. How do you defend your position?

Nepotism in politics is equal to nepotism in every field. Be it Bollywood, medicine, engineering and many other fields. Nepotism is everywhere. About nepotism in politics, I feel that because of my father, my father-in-law (former IPS officer Kishore Kunal) and my grandfather, I may have easy passage of communication. I could have had a better chance in being heard, being understood, but the whole process of getting the ticket from LJP (RV) and being able to establish the communication with party president Mr. Chirag Paswan has been an independent decision. He has a personal relationship with my husband (Saayan Kunal). So, we have been talking as friends or you could say that he has played the role of elder brother in my husband’s life. It was only when the election was announced that I told him that I have a keen interest in politics and I wanted to contest. So, the whole process of getting the ticket is an independent decision and my father played no role in that. Being Ashok Choudhary’s daughter could have eased communication but it definitely does not determine my political career because I will be a representative of the people, by the people and for the people. Now people have to decide if they want to have me as their representative or not. 

There is a talk that Nitish Kumar played an important role in convincing Chirag Paswan to give you the ticket and there was some kind of quid pro quo. What do you say?

I completely deny this assumption and talk. These are baseless rumours and there was absolutely no communication between Mr. Chirag Paswan or my father or the respected Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the whole process of getting the ticket. It was an independent decision that my husband and I took when we went to Chirag bhaiya. I wanted to be in politics and everybody in my family knew about it. We went to Delhi and spoke to Chirag bhaiya about the ticket.

Why did you decide to contest the polls on LJP (RV) ticket, why not the JD(U)?

The whole point of joining the LJP (RV) has solely been Chirag bhaiya. It is very evident that youth resonate with youth more. A young person will connect better with the young person. His whole vision is to give priority to the youth of Bihar. This particular thing had a very positive impact on me. Two out of five seats, he has given to women; this says a lot about his vision for the women. I would never have thought that somebody in Bihar would give me a break at this young age, considering Bihar politics. This is the only reason I joined Chirag bhaiya. I knew that there is one person in Bihar who can see the potential in me. The way he is consolidating the Bihari identity, the way he is promoting the Bihar identity is commendable.

How much do you know about your Lok Sabha constituency Samastipur?

Honestly speaking, I have never been to Samastipur but my mother-in-law (Anita Kunal) is from Samastipur. She was born in Vibhutipur and my father-in-law has worked a lot in the constituency. I am in conversation with all the students from Samastipur who are here in Patna. I am gathering as much information as I can about Samastipur. I am trying to understand the demographics and the whole economic, political and social condition of Samastipur. I am moving to Samastipur on Wednesday [April 3] and will be there till the election. I will be meeting people. Limited data is available, so I am going there to find firsthand data.

What are the challenges you anticipate?

The first and biggest challenge is that I feel people will target me because I am not from Samastipur. This is something that I have been experiencing since we started the whole social media campaign. Most people are not happy about the earlier representative of the constituency. I think they did not visit the constituency and never listened to the people and they never worked for them.

I was not born and brought up in Samastipur but I think that it is not important for a leader to be born in a place to do good work in it. A good leader is somebody who has vision, who has the capacity to lead others and is sensitive to other people’s emotions and demands. He or she should have the vision to grow the constituency economically. I know I am going to face the challenges and I am ready for that. I have a good roadmap for it. First, I am going to buy a house in Samastipur and make sure that people know that I have a house there and I am one of them. They should not punish me for other people’s mistakes. Every election campaign and day would be challenging but I am strong enough to overcome all the challenges.

What is your plan and vision for the development of Bihar and Samastipur in particular.

My first target would be the youth and women of Samastipur. I will work on providing employment because financial independence is the key to growth. Once you are financially independent, it gives you a shot at liberation. Financial independence and employment is necessary for both women and youth. I will also work for the downtrodden people who are economically and socially backward. Dalits and Mahadalits have been denied many opportunities. I am going to focus more on investment in Samastipur, focus on how the factories that have been shutting down can be re-activated. I am going to take up all these issues in Samastipur. I will also focus on the migrant workers who face a lot of issues. I will start at the micro level with Jeevika didi and tola sevaks.

What are the insights you have received from your father?

The only tip that I have received from my father is that the people who vote for you are like god. You are never supposed to disappoint them and if your capacity is 100% then you have to work 150% for them. You go to your constituency as a normal candidate but when you come back with the votes, you come back as a Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly or Council, because of those people, so never ever disappoint them.

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