After completing her postgraduation in biotechnology from Panjab University, she wished to pursue PhD or law, but fate had something else in store for her. With no political background, Daman Thind Bajwa, 28, now finds herself in the thick of hustings being the Congress candidate from Sunam.
It was her indulgence in students politics being a leader of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, which catapulted her to the bigger poll arena where she is today. In 2013, she was elected as first woman president of NSUI in Punjab and then became vice president of the Youth Congress in 2015, the post she still holds. As NSUI president, she ran a statewide campaign “Sada Haq” in support of free education up to graduation level for the wards of the BPL families.
She moderated Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh’s interactions with the college and university students a year ago. “He (Amarinder Singh) was impressed and used to tell me that he had a bigger role for me in mind,” says Daman, who was left with no choice but to take the plunge after her name figured in the Congress list of candidates.
Now, she’s toiling hard in the dusty lanes of Sunam, predominantly a rural constituency along the Patiala-Bathinda road, to set the tide in her favour.
Coming from a family of army officers from Jalandhar, Daman married Harman Dev Bajwa, the son of a retired army Major, of Sunam in 2013. “Ours was a love marriage. My husband supported me in grabbing the opportunity. Now, everybody from my parental as well as in-laws’ side are campaigning for me,” she says. Her father, a retired army Colonel, too, has shifted base from Jalandhar to Sunam for the campaigning. “Joining the electoral politics was never on my mind. I and my husband belong to ordinary families, but life is full of surprises,” says Daman.
An avid dog lover, Daman nowadays doesn’t find time to tend to her pets and stray canines. “I am campaigning the entire day and in the night, we have to plan for the next day. After a sleep of a few hours, the day begins again,” she says. Her love for dogs is evident from the ‘kurta’ she wore that carried prints of canines. “I told you na…I love dogs,” she says when pointed out that the prints were unique.
After getting a signal from Capt Amarinder Singh six month ago “to get ready for a bigger role”, Daman shifted her base to Sunam and organised a series of street plays to tell the voters how the Amarinder Singh government was better than the current dispensation.
In the contest, she faces Aman Arora of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and sitting MLA Gobind Singh Longowal of Akali Dal. There is also a party rebel in Rajinder Singh Deepa, the brother-in-law of Aman Arora.
“Deepa is difficult to please. He would have opposed irrespective of who the candidate was. We can manage what is he capable of doing. He still thinks the party will change the candidate, which will never happen,” she says.
Main Sunam di nuh haan, main hunn ethon jana nee; appan Sunam di tarraki layi kamm karna hai (I am Sunam’s daughter-in-law, I won’t go from here; we have to work for Sunam’s progess)
“Sunam’s electoral history shows that most of the legislators were outsiders, who fought, won and forgot the people. I am your nuh (daughter-in-law) and going to stay here. The constituency has seen little development, even finance minister (Parminder Singh Dhindsa), who now has ran away from here, failed to do anything for Sunam,” she says addressing a small gathering of traders at Purani Anaj Mandi. She doesn’t miss a chance to touch the feet of elderly who come across, pleading with folded hands: “Mainu tuhadi vote te support di bahut lorr hai.” “She is politically immature, let us see how she performs on becoming an MLA,” says Mandeep Singh, a Sunam resident.
“Apart from the birthplace of freedom-fighter Shaheed Udham Singh, Sunam has no other distinction to feel proud of . I want to make it the best town of the state,” she tells the gathering during campaigning.
On her priorities for the segment if she is elected as the MLA, Daman says she wants to have special public transportation facility for girl students and a new bridge connecting Sunam with Longowal as the existing one is in a dilapidated condition.
Daman Thind Bajwa, 28, Congress
Poll quotient: She is trying to play the ‘nuh’ (daughter-in-law) card; trying to strike a rapport with the women
Education: Postgraduate in biotechnology
By the way: An avid dog lover, she, at times, even wears ‘kurtas’ having prints of canines
Role model: Capt Amarinder Singh
Quote: Main Sunam di nuh haan, main hunn ethon jana nee; appan Sunam di tarraki layi kamm karna hai (I am Sunam’s daughter-in-law, I won’t go from here; we have to work for Sunam’s progess)