Women in Indian politics are finally having their moment, the spokesperson for the BJP in Maharashtra has said.
Shaina NC, who was holidaying in London recently, told Eastern Eye that there were a number of prominent women in Narendra Modi’s government, but it was important not to limit themselves
to being mere tokens.
The mother of two, who started her career as fashion designer at the age of 18, has been campaigning for at least 33 per cent of seats in parliament to be filled by women. Currently the Lok Sabha – the lower house in the Indian parliament– only has 12 per cent female representation.
Shaina said that although it was difficult when she entered politics, things were slowly changing.
“There are prominent women in the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], but we can’t just limit ourselves to being tokens. I believe you must have 33 per cent of women in power,” she said.
“When I fought my first election, they gave me a constituency which had hardcore Muslim and Christian slum pockets. They said, ‘fight there and you will win because you are cosmopolitan.’
“They only give a woman a constituency where she is going to lose, so the reality is nobody is giving you a fair shot. But I think the time has come.
“I have no sugar daddy, no godfather. I have learned the tricks of the trade on the way. It’s been 13 years now and the first time I started to campaign in Gujarat, people were wondering what I
was doing there.”
Through Modi’s Make in India initiative, which promotes domestic skills, more than 100 traditional weavers from Benaras, the prime minister’s own constituency, have been employed. They are
creating intricate fabrics – a programme which falls under Shaina’s remit.
“Those weavers chose to be security guards or worked in call centres because they did not have a fixed livelihood. Since they joined our programme, they are earning close to `25,000 [£280]
a month, and the product line under ‘Make in India’ is something that is being promoted all across the country and even internationally.”
Shaina is the daughter of the former sheriff of Mumbai, Nana Chudasama. She joined the BJP when she was 31 and launched her own jewellery line two years later.
She believes Modi, who was elected as India’s leader over two years ago, will go down in history as the only prime minister people will remember.
“He has given of himself entirely to the country. You may question what policies have been implemented, why is it taking so long? But governing a country like India is a Herculean task – in that
sense he has done a phenomenal job.
“When do you remember a prime minister who has worked so tirelessly and promoted being Indian as a matter of pride for all Indians, even for those living overseas?”