KOLKATA: The BJP might have fallen flat on its ambition to rule Bengal, but the party found the most unlikely winner in a 30-year-old homemaker of humble means who scripted a stunning victory, trouncing her nearest TMC rival by a margin of over 4,000 votes.
A mother of three, newly elected Saltora MLA, Chandana Bauri, who followed in her husband's footsteps and joined the saffron camp around five years ago, had never imagined she would ever be called upon to represent her constituency.
As a party worker, she worked every day, cycling her way to various parts of the constituency from her home in Saltora, Bankura district, trying to "strengthen the organisation and ensuring that people in need get requisite help".
"I always thought contesting an election involved a lot of money, and that it wasn't really a possibility, given the fact that we are not well-off."
"My husband is a mason, and the little that we save goes into funding my children's education and meeting our daily expenses. However, when the local BJP leadership wanted to field me from Saltora, I realised that my work would speak for me," Bauri said.
Asked what prompted her to take the plunge into electoral politics, the newly elected MLA said "atrocities perpetrated by TMC activists" was a major reason behind her decision to contest the elections.
"During the last panchayat elections, many from the BJP were not given a chance to file nomination, the legislator said.
She alleged that party men and women were physically stopped from making an attempt to join the electoral fray and said, "I just wanted to do something to put an end to this anarchy."
She also stressed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's welfare initiatives, such as measures taken under Swachh Bharat Mission, were other reasons for her joining the saffron camp.
Born in a humble family in Barjora area of Bankura, Bauri lost her father just two days before her Class 10 board exams began.
Her mother did odd jobs to feed the family.
"My mother weathered many a storm, washed dishes, sold cow dung cakes to eke out a living. I have four more siblings, and she made sure none of us went to bed hungry. She happens to be my inspiration. Women are capable of doing great things. I have learnt that from my mother and grandmother," she said.
Bauri, who still lives in a one-room mud hut, also thanked her husband and in-laws for being supportive.
"I would wake up early, cook food and leave for mandal committee work. My in-laws and relatives, who live nearby, took care of my household when I was away. There are so many people who have helped me in my journey and I cant be grateful enough to them," she told PTI.
The BJP MLA said she wanted her children two daughters and a son -- to pursue higher education and find jobs that would not just benefit them but touch other people's lives, too.
Talking about her plans to develop Saltora, she pointed out that the place still lacks proper roads.
"I will definitely work towards developing the infrastructure in Saltora. Proper roads and clean drinking water top my list of priorities," the BJP MLA said.