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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP is banking on this ex-IRS officer in Sirsa

Sirsa, the home turf of the Chautala clan, is considered to be a bastion of the now wobbling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The party had won this seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 18, 2019 11:37 IST
Bhaskar Mukherjee
Bhaskar Mukherjee
Hindustan Times, Sirsa
Sirsa,Sunita Duggal,Haryana assembly elections

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Sunita Duggal as its candidate from the Sirsa (reserved) Lok Sabha seat, her rivals within the party and potential political foes entering the fray were amused.

But a week later, Duggal, the former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, made a roaring entry into Sirsa, attracting women voters in large numbers.

The 51-year-old BJP nominee is not a greenhorn in electoral politics even as this is her first Lok Sabha election. In the 2014 Haryana assembly elections, Duggal, who was then the saffron party’s nominee from Ratia assembly segment of Fatehabad district, had sent out a clear message about her potential in politics, polling 50,452 and missing the winning spot by just 453 votes.

Sirsa, the home turf of the Chautala clan, is considered to be a bastion of the now wobbling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The party had won this seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Later, during the state assembly polls, INLD candidates won in seven segments of Sirsa while Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the INLD, won one seat.

The BJP had won in only one segment, Tohana, which is represented by state BJP chief Shubhash Barala. There are 1,75,1064 voters in the Sirsa parliamentary seat—93,0361 (male) and 82,0703 (female). And Duggal’s prime focus is on women voters.

Sirsa also houses the dera sacchha sauda headquarters. Duggals rivals in the fray will be sitting INLD MP Charanjeet Singh Rori and state Congress president and former Sirsa MP Ashok Tanwar.

She is the second woman from a mainstream political party to contest from Sirsa, the seat represented by Kumari Selja of the Congress in 1991 and 1996.

Born, bought up and educated in Hisar town, Duggal did her BSc in medical science from Daya Nand College of Hisar where she remained a promising athlete. Later, she completed her MSc in chemistry from the Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University.

While pursuing MSc, Duggal cracked the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examinations in 1990 and went on to become an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. She resigned from the IRS in 2014 to take the political plunge.

The first-ever BJP government in Haryana appointed her as the chairperson of Haryana scheduled castes finance and development corporation in December 2015. But she continued her visits to various assembly segments of the Sirsa Lok Sabha. Mother of two children (one son and one daughter who are pursuing law) and wife of Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Rajesh Duggal, Duggal has launched a door-to-door campaigning.

“I was very much involved in social activities right after I joined government service. I always aspired to serve people. Immediately after I got this opportunity to join active politics, I resigned from my post because in politics one can serve a vast section of people,” she said.

Sunita Duggal, 51, BJP

Constituency: Sirsa

Educational Qualification: MSc (chemistry)

Political debut: Ratia assembly segment of Fatehabad district in 2014

Electoral record: Lost by a thin margin of 453 votes to INLD’s Ravinder Baliala

Claim to fame: Ex-IRS officer and wife of Haryana cadre IPS officer

First Published: Apr 18, 2019 11:36 IST

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