Service to others is nothing new for Dr Manju Shivach. She has been treating patients and performing surgeries for over 20 years till the voters decided that it’s time she donned a new role to serve the people — as the MLA of Modi Nagar in Ghaziabad.
First-timer Dr Manju Shivach, who defeated two sitting MLAs in the 2017 UP assembly polls, became the first woman in 32 years to win an assembly seat in Ghaziabad district.
The last woman to win from Ghaziabad was Congress’s Vimla Singh who won the elections in 1985.
Dr Shivach, a gynaecologist, was the only woman candidate to get a ticket from any major political party this elections. Although she was considered a non-entity by many, especially in the hinterlands of western Uttar Pradesh, she proved them wrong to claim the seat.
Dr Shivach hails from a small non-political family from Dehradun. Her mother worked as school teacher and father as an accounts officer with UP Roadways.
Her first political stint came in 2012 during the chairman election for Modi Nagar Nagar Palika seat which her husband, Dr Devendra Shivach, intended to contest but could not as the seat was reserved for women.
Instead, she took up the challenge but lost. The couple had been classmates in medical college and decided to marry before settling in Modi Nagar from where her husband hails. They also set up a small hospital there in 1996.
However, after the defeat in the nagar palika election, in 2013, she was entrusted to look after the women’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party as its district president.
“There was no looking back since. Women joined me in large numbers and we joined every event, protest and agitation called by the party. It is hard for any woman to stand up in a male dominated region such as western UP. I remember carrying out publicity campaigns in the 2014 general elections for the party and drove through interior villages day and night. There were motorcades deployed by other parties to woo voters and they indulged in hectic campaigning. Still, it did not deter me,” she said.
During December and January, she stood in bus stops of Modi Nagar and urged people to join the BJP. Her ticket for the assembly seat was not confirmed till she came to the attention of party leaders.
“I remember that I had gone to party’s regional office at Ghaziabad when the names of contesting candidates were being finalised. I was returning home and I had just reached Raj Chopla near my hospital and was on my phone. I lost the connectivity just then and could not figure out the names of the selected candidates and my heart was beating fast. When I reached Modi Nagar, people were celebrating outside my house and they told me that I will be contesting,” she said.
“I could not believe it and I rushed back to the regional office for a confirmation. Since that day, I started preparations for the election. All my hospital work was taken over by my colleague Dr Shobhna Sengar. The networking part with leaders of dominant groups was taken over by my husband. These two people have been the driving force behind my success,” Dr Shivach said.
On March 11, the doctor was declared as winner from Modi Nagar seat after she trounced sitting BSP MLA from Murad Nagar Wahab Chaudhary and Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Sudesh Sharma, the sitting MLA from Modi Nagar seat. She was the only woman candidate among the nine who contested from the assembly seat.
Her political duties aside, the doctor never misses her morning deadline to attend to patients who come from every section of society and far flung areas. Even after being elected the MLA, Dr Shivach is a regular at the hospital, attending to patients.
“She is a strict administrator and looks after the hospital personally. It is her personal touch with her patients that makes her respected and loved by all,” Dr Sengar said.
Her hobbies range from preparing Indian cuisines to reading literature and mythology. Even as she moves on to a bigger and challenging role, Dr Shivach says she will always be available to her patients and at the hospital.
“I had a lot of support wherever I worked. Even my patients supported me. Now, the time has come to take up a bigger challenge to serve people on a larger scale. I have a definite agenda to implement and take up issues of women security, sugarcane farmers and easing traffic related issues before the 2019 general elections. I will do all this at any cost,” the new MLA said.
Grill-session: Dr Manju Shivach, BJP MLA Modi Nagar
You will be under pressure to perform before the 2019 general elections. What agenda will be your priority?
My focus will be on reviving the industrial town of Modi Nagar, holding camps for the unemployed and seeing how they can be provided skills and jobs. Apart from this, I will also persuade all parents to compulsorily get their daughters admitted to schools. I will also try to bring Central schemes to my constituency.
What other local issues you will take up?
I will work to expedite payment of pending dues to sugarcane farmers who have been suffering for a long time. This is a major issue that has been delayed by local politics. I will also try to promote local craftsmen and revive the area as a textile hub. There will also be proper electrification in villages.
It will also be on my agenda throughout to provide school and college-going girls better transport as they travel from far-flung areas. The party has already promised measures for safety and security of women and girls. Bypassing of traffic from Modi Nagar will also be a priority as the town in marred by heavy flow of vehicles.
Several parties have held tampering with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) responsible for their loss in the election. Your view?
The EVMs are tried and tested and we have full faith in the Election Commission. Had there been any issue with the machines, there are several checks and balances to prevent malpractices. Also, the media would have raised the issue earlier. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are trying to hide their loss behind EVMs. They cannot figure out why they lost, but it was more because of their caste-based and appeasement politics.
Does your victory despite being a first-timer suggest dominance of polarisation this election?
It is not about polarisation, but the works of PM Modi that have made people believe he will bring development. The people of UP were fed up with the rule of smaller parties who came to power one after the other. It was in fact a vote in support of PM Modi and his policies. People also supported demonetisation even though they had to stand in queues.
I was confident of winning as I have been working on the ground for the past three years. People from all groups supported me. After my victory, a Muslim woman named Momina came to congratulate and gifted me a framed photograph of Lord Krishna.
Representation of women has suffered as women MLAs have not been given due chance in the UP cabinet of late? What if you are given a chance as minister?
Women have performed well and need due representation in the new cabinet. Representation of women will motivate other women to enter politics as well. They bring a more disciplined approach to politics. If I am given a chance, I will respect the party’s choice and work honestly and with utmost transparency. Although I am new, I will learn this job as I learned to become a doctor with training.