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Striving to find her feet

First-time Congress MP Shruti Choudhry succeeded to some extent in bridging the gap between the national capital and the districts of Mahendergarh and Bhiwani, with both being included in the National Capital Region (NCR) last year.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 06, 2014 23:51 IST
Monica Sharma
Monica Sharma
Hindustan Times

First-time Congress MP Shruti Choudhry succeeded to some extent in bridging the gap between the national capital and the districts of Mahendergarh and Bhiwani, with both being included in the National Capital Region (NCR) last year.

But it was the baby-faced Shruti’s mother Kiran Choudhry, a Haryana cabinet minister, who walked away with the credit most of the times.

For almost everything she did to make the arid land fertile, a large share of the bouquets went to her mother. And with very little support from the Congress regime in Haryana, which largely left the southern part of the state neglected, the MP is more or less on her own as she prepares for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Her efforts to bring about development in the area have been impeded by the “failure” of the Congress-ruled central and state governments to generate avenues of employment in her constituency. In view of a strong anti-incumbency undercurrent, which is threatening to upset the applecart of many seasoned campaigners, the political fortunes of late Haryana chief minister Bansi Lal’s granddaughter may take a tumble.

The background
Oxford graduate Choudhry is not new to politics. She was pitchforked into the political arena after the death of her father, then Haryana agriculture minister Surender Singh, in 2005.

Trained in Indian classical music in Patiala Gayaki and a lawyer by profession, she was given a huge responsibility when Bansi Lal placed a ‘pagri’ on her head in front of a mourning public soon after her father’s demise.

Since then, there has been no looking back. Supported by her mother, she was chosen by the Congress to contest the Lok Sabha election in 2009. She defeated former CM Om Prakash Chautala’s son Ajay Singh Chautala, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate, by a margin of 55,097 votes.

The achievements
At the time of her election to Parliament, her success was attributed to the goodwill earned by her family. But over the years, she struggled not only to establish herself as a politician but also to ward off attacks from within her party.

Shruti managed to get more than Rs 266 crore sanctioned for augmentation of drinking water supply for 118 villages in her constituency.

The MP claims that she was instrumental in the inclusion of Bhiwani and Mahendergarh in the NCR, a claim contested by Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who has been giving the credit to all ministers and members of Parliament. The MP also credits herself for the inclusion of frost in the list of eligible natural calamities.

The difficulties
Shruti’s mother was once considered a contender to the chief minister’s chair, but was reportedly sidelined by Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s loyalists. The effect can be seen on her constituency as well. The wide, well-carpeted highway from Delhi to Rohtak turns into a road of cobbled stone as it reaches her constituency. Neglect is writ large. The area does not even appear to be a poor cousin of Gurgaon and Rohtak.

The ‘discrimination’ against south Haryana, including her constituency, in terms of development — in contrast to Hooda’s home district Rohtak — has not escaped the attention of some Congress leaders, who have accused the Hooda government of regional bias.

People’s take

With the MP busy travelling from one village to another, inaugurating one project after the other, residents have got the chance to see her from close quarters. Rahul of Siwani village says, "The MP may have inaugurated water works in the area, but we are facing problems related to electricity. A group of women at Talwani village (Siwani), while listening to the MP, say, "She comes and goes after giving a brief speech. She should venture into the village to see the poor condition of roads. The state of sanitation and power supply is also pathetic."

A section of people say the mother-daughter duo has done work to improve water supply and sanitation in the constituency, but the standoff between Hooda and the MP has taken its toll on development.

Some people opine that Shruti is more inclined towards publicity than work. Then there are those who don’t want to vote for the Congress. They are openly saying that it’s ‘Tau’ Devi Lal (INLD) or the BJP for them.

Part 27 of 34:
Vijay Inder Singla, Sangrur

First Published: Mar 06, 2014 23:46 IST