Elections are a costly affair, but 25-year-old Vandana Sharma stands out as a candidate with a difference. This undergraduate woman is so determined to better the lot of her village that unmindful of fund crunch, she campaigns on a scooter.
Her no-frills style of canvassing is in keeping with her commitment to austerity. At the time of filing her nomination papers as an independent candidate, she dipped into her savings that she had built up from her pocket money to make a security deposit of Rs 10,000.
A farmer’s daughter, she is driven by the desire to bring basic amenities to her native village Nagla Brahman and other villages in Fatehpur Sikri constituency.
“The plight of my cousin, who is paralysed and unable to speak for the past 18 years due to lack of proper medical aid, inspired me to contest the polls. That day, I decided to fight for my village and region which lack water, power and health facilities,” she said.
“Had I told my family about my plan to contest the election, there might have been opposition. I chose to file my nomination with pocket money of Rs 10,000, saved over a period of time. Then, I told my family. After initial reluctance, they are supporting me,” she said.
Vandana has vowed not to marry till she is able to facilitate the opening of a medical store and intermediate college in her neglected village.
The village has a lone primary school and students have to go elsewhere to study further.
“My village has no medical store or other basic amenities. Even to buy salt, we have to go to Kirawali, seven kilometres away,” she said.
“Almost all candidates raise issues related to women, education, and law and order. Why shouldn’t a girl come forward and represent them in the House?” she asked.
“Irrespective of the poll result, my issue-based fight will continue,” said Vandana.
She is not the first one in the family to test the poll waters. Her sister-in-law contested the village head’s election in 2015 but lost.
“I stand for issues concerning villagers. I believe that commitment will matter more than the resources which other candidates from major political parties have at their command,” she said.