Auto-driver who missed MP post by a ‘whisker’

Shruti Rajan

New Delhi, May 6:

She is Delhi’s first and only woman auto-rickshaw driver who could have been MP if only her nomination had reached on time.

But Sunita Chaudhry, 25, hasn’t given up hope and says she is determined to contest the next parliamentary election.

After all, she may be young but it is familiar territory for the woman who contested the assembly elections in December from south Delhi’s Mehrauli constituency as the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party’s candidate.

This time, the Awami party beckoned and asked her to contest from Baghpat constituency in Uttar Pradesh against stalwarts like Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ajit Singh. But her papers reached after the closure of nominations on April 24. If not, she says she would have definitely won.

“They were already scared of me,” she says of her could-be opponents in the constituency. “They were scared because I would have got the Muslims’ vote since the party I represented was a Muslim party. Since I am Jat, I would have won the Jat votes too.”

Wearing her political naivete on her sleeve, Sunita says she wants to be MP because it means power.

“A member of parliament has so much power. If I want to help somebody, policemen will be much more respectful to me. They will be scared of me, because I will be able to transfer them anytime I want.”

She also says she will never leave Delhi. “Once I become an MP, they will give me a big house in Delhi itself, won’t they?” she asks innocently.

While her political goals might be hazy, the young woman has a definite agenda of “raising the voice of the poor who are in need of help”.

“No one helped me but I wanted to stand on my own feet. After two years of auto driving, I have managed to get a licence to drive taxis. And now I am trying for heavy vehicle driving permit from the government,” Sunita says.

Sunita says she helps everybody who comes to her, sometimes even sacrificing driving her auto-rickshaw for the day.

“Today, even my male counterparts respect me. At the auto stand, they always let me take the first customer. ‘Ladies first’ they say,” she smiles.

The respect has been hard-earned. Chaudhry, who has studied till Class 10, was married off at the age of 13 but ran away from her in-laws’ home in Uttar Pradesh due to abuse by her husband.

And what about her auto rickshaw? “I will never leave my auto. I will keep driving it even if I win.”