Entering mainstream politics was never on her mind until a few weeks ago. The world of retired government teacher Kamal Kanta Batra (66), mother of Kargil war martyr and Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain Vikram Batra, revolved around her family. Besides, she was actively involved in the welfare of children from weaker sections of society.
Hailing from Sujanpur assembly segment of Hamirpur district, Kamal had moved to Palampur in Kangra district after her marriage to Girdhari Lal Batra, who also retired as a government teacher.
While scouting for candidates in Himachal Pradesh, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) initially asked her husband to contest the Lok Sabha election from Hamirpur, but he refused on health grounds.
Since Hamirpur has the largest concentration of exservicemen and serving soldiers in the state, the AAP wanted to field a candidate from a military background.
Subsequently, the party zeroed in on Kamal. After much discussion within the family, the Batras agreed to take the plunge.
Kamal, daughter of an exarmy man, involved herself in social activities after retirement from government service. For a decade, she worked with the Red Cross and Rotary Club in Palampur town, besides doing charity work in the name of her son.
Every winter, she has been donating woollen cloths and blankets to underprivileged poor people. She has also adopted a girl child from a poor family and is sponsoring her education and other needs.
“My life was totally different earlier. After my son attained martyrdom in the Kargil war, I started involving myself in charity work. After doing a government job, I took to social causes full time,” says Kamal.
“It was a few weeks ago, when AAP leaders approached us, that I started thinking that politics could be the best way to serve the people,” she claims.
She also runs awareness programmes — on sacrifices made by soldiers from Himachal Pradesh in various wars — in schools in the vicinity of Palampur town, and exhort young minds to join the army.
“Losing one’s son in a war is always painful, but I am proud of him. He laid down his life for the country and my message to the youth is join the army and undo every wrong that is happening in this great nation,” says Kamal.
Kamal’s husband is her greatest strength. “It was he who motivated me to join politics. Now, he is with me all the time, accompanying me to remote places of the constituency and managing my campaign.”
Starting from her hometown Sujanpur, Kamal is touring every nook and corner of the constituency.
A political novice, she does not target any individual during her campaign but highlights the failure of sitting BJP MP Anurag Thakur and the Congress government in the state in solving problems faced by farmers, women, youth and soldiers/ex-servicemen.