Remya Haridas, one of the 52 Congress candidates to win her seat in the 2019 general election, has a few milestones to her name; one of them is being the second Dalit woman from the state of Kerala to be elected to parliament. She is also the only woman lawmaker from the state this time.
From poverty to parliament, her journey is a story in itself. Born to a daily wage worker, the 32-year-old contested election with assets worth a little over Rs 22,000. Her mother is also an active Congress leader who worked as a tailor to make ends meet.
"We've seen poverty very closely. We used to live in a thatched hut back then, and even now, we reside in a house provided by the government. At a time when parents were too scared to let their daughters out, my mother encouraged me to push boundaries and actively participate in all spheres of life," Remya Haridas recalls of the years she spent growing up.
Her political career kicked off in 2011, when Congress president Rahul Gandhi handpicked her through a talent hunt. "I have had the privilege to be part of the Congress's Parliamentary Party and selected through the talent hunt initiated by Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi has a style like that of Mahatma Gandhi, to listen to people, to get their feedback," Remya Haridas told NDTV.
Prior to her election, she was the block panchayat president of Kunnamangalam, an area considered to be Left-dominated.
In 2019, Remya Haridas was up against two-time parliamentarian PK Biju from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the reserved Lok Sabha constituency of Alathur. Despite contesting from a seat that is known to be the Left's stronghold, she won with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes.
On her electoral victory, she said: "I have got the maximum support of women. I am going to be their voice in the parliament. I will also be raising issues of jobs for youth and agricultural crisis".
Like most Congress leaders, Remya is optimistic about the future of her party. "Congress will bounce back. It represents secular democratic India," she said.
Asked about her plans for the future, she breaks into a song: "This world is not mine, this world is not yours. This world belongs to God".
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