UP Polls 2017: Her Parents Want Her Married. Fighting Election Is Her Last Chance

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UP Polls 2017: Vandana Sharma is contesting from Fatehpur Sikri as an Independent to make a point.


Fatehpur Sikri:  She has been pitched against Uttar Pradesh's political heavyweights who have money, muscle and party cadre on their side. But 25-year-old Vandana Sharma knew this the day she quietly stepped out of her house with Rs 10,000 on a chilly January morning to file her nomination papers as an independent candidate from the Fatehpur Sikri assembly constituency.

The money, a third of her Rs 32,000 that she had declared as her assets in the election affidavit, was for the security deposit.

Ms Sharma says the struggle to get her family's support was a challenge.

"My parents wanted to marry me off, this is my last resort. I need to make something of myself," said Ms Sharma.

Ms Sharma is pursuing her graduation in Arts from Agra college. Her battles, however, aren't only about her life.

"My village has no basic amenities. There are no colleges nearby. Girls have to be accompanied by a male member if they step out. And we can't step out after 6pm... In 21st century India, this has to change," says Ms Sharma, a farmer's daughter.

During campaigning in the village, Ms Sharma promised to improve the lives of women through quality education, better healthcare and a safer environment.

"I will definitely vote for her, we have spent our lives inside the house, our daughters must step out," said Sarla Devi.

But it is mostly a lonely battle for her. Her youngest brother who has just completed his post-graduation, Sushil Sharma, is the only one by her side.

"No one supported her initially, no one spoke to her, she went alone to file her nomination, but after seeing her work so hard, I decided to help her," Sushil said.

Ms Sharma knows she may not really have a chance to make it to the Uttar Pradesh assembly, but she is glad she took the plunge.


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