Newly elected BJP MP from Raiganj in Bengal Debasree Chaudhuri is known for her fighting spirit. She is a giant slayer, who thrashed her opponents in Bengal in India’s recently held General Elections.
Debasree, the harbinger of hope for millions, has been inducted into the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. In an exclusive interview, as she spoke at length about her political journey, her struggle and on her bonding with Smriti Irani, The Optimist listened…
The Optimist: From an ordinary party worker to MP — how has the journey been all through?
Debasree Chaudhuri: I started my career long back as a dedicated party worker in the late-’80s. I never thought of personal gains and, as a pracharak, I tried to remain committed to the work I was assigned. From my childhood, I’ve had the desire to serve my nation with true nationalistic feelings. Many a time, I remember, relatives and acquaintances asked me to choose a ‘safe’ career. In fact, I recollect a friend once told me, “You’re so good looking. You should get married and settle down.” I took the path of challenge and can definitely say that I’m happy with it. There’s no doubt that I’m indebted to my party, its members and my fellow workers who have been an integral part of this campaign.
The Optimist: Women’s empowerment is a theme often discussed, but seldom practised as participation of women in politics in India is a taboo even today. How does it feel to be a prominent face of the Bengal BJP and a Cabinet minister of the new government?
Debasree Chaudhuri: As a woman, I feel that every woman must come forward with their abilities with full confidence. Often, you’ll see people complain about corruption and other negative aspects of Indian politics. I always tell young boys and girls that, if they don’t come forward and be a part of the system, this can never change. Politics as a career for women is also an instance of women’s empowerment. In other words, politics is the new goal, or benchmark for women’s empowerment. Gone are the days when teaching, or other jobs were literally imposed as ‘suitable’ professions for women. I’ve seen women being immensely successful in politics and feel there’s no reason why women shouldn’t join politics, which is a system of nation-building.
The Optimist: You’ll be facing a strong political Opposition during your stint as a minister of state in Bengal. How do you look at this opportunity?
Debasree Chaudhuri: When you are in politics, you must focus on performing against all odds. My only tool is development, which is the sole agenda of our party. In this regard, I want to quote one of Sachin Tendulkar’s remarks. He once said, “Being the main batsman of the team, I’m expected to perform well on all pitches, against all bowlers.” A good Opposition, along with constructive criticism, is a pillar of democracy. Personally speaking, ‘excellence’, itself, is a benchmark. In Satyajit Ray’s Nayak, the protagonist remarks, “To the top.” But there’s no doubt that the emphasis will always be on serving the people against all odds. I’m not only the minister of our supporters, but also of the Opposition. I’ll always make sure that no one is deprived of the fruits of development.
The Optimist: You’re seen as a giant-killer in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, defeating some of your heavyweight opponents. What’s been your mantra for success in this resounding victory?
Debasree Chaudhuri: As you can see from the results, the mandate is pretty clear. A nationwide trend is evident and our Bengal is no exception. We’ve been working hard and I’m thankful to my party members, supporters and, most importantly, the people of the constituency. They wanted change and believe in me. It’s not only about the victory, but about the faith they have reposed in me, which has given me immense confidence.
The Optimist: Politics of gimmick has been a common trend in global politics with a populist approach. Being the MoS, women and child development, what is your take on it?
Debasree Chaudhuri: I don’t believe in gimmicks, at all. In the digital era, people are fully aware of the reality and can’t be fooled. Sooner or later, they’ll find out the truth. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. I, too, follow the same the path and believe I can serve my country by serving the people. Our main focus is all-round development so that people from all sections of society are benefited in the true sense of the term.
The Optimist: Smriti Irani, an NDA stalwart, is going to be your mentor in the ministry of women and child development. Often, it’s said that two women can’t really be friends. How are your equations with Smriti Irani?
Debasree Chaudhuri: Smriti Irani is my senior in the party and a friend, as well. She’s a fantastic performer and I’m a fast learner. So, I believe, in the best interests of the nation, we’ll be tuning well and fulfilling the duties and demands of the portfolio.