HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014
'Mayawati' in saffron is BJP's Balha candidate
Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
Balha (Bahraich), February 02, 2012
First Published: 01:14 IST(2/2/2012)
Last Updated: 11:10 IST(2/2/2012)
Savitri Bai Phule campaigns in her constituency. HT Photo

The BJP candidate from Balha, the 38-year-old Savitri Bai Phule, could have easily passed off for the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati except for the shoulder-length hair and the regulation saffron gear.

Even the tenor of her speech is reminiscent of Mayawati. "I renounced my family at a very young age to serve the samaj. Why would I amass wealth when I don't have a family?" an impassioned Phule tells a spell-bound audience in Bahraich district.

The rest of the speech recalls her "heroic struggle". Phule's parents married her off at the age of six. When she was a teenager she went to Lucknow to participate in a demonstration, got embroiled in a lathi charge and ended up in jail. "On return I told my in-laws I wanted to dedicate myself to the service of society. Since the marriage was yet to be solemnised, I broke the alliance," says Phule, as the villagers applaud.

Today Phule runs an NGO that fights for women's rights. With a total asset of Rs. 2 lakh, which is a donation from the party, Phule is amongst the poorest candidates in the state. She has been a zila panchayat member thrice and lost Charda seat by 1000 votes in 2007.

Says Sobhit Yadav, a villager, "She can win hands down except that she is a pasi and not of Mayawati's caste."

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