A regular in TV debates, BJP youth leader Nupur Sharma now eyes national politics

Bhanvi Arora/ iamin

We all know the top notch politicians but do we ever try to know about the people behind their success? There are many such enthusiastic and passionate workers working relentlessly for the political parties but have not been in the limelight.

Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national media co-in-charge Nupur Sharma is one of them. The 29-year-old is the young face of the party and has been actively working since 2008 when she was elected as DUSU President. Nupur, an alumna of London School of Economics, is an advocate by profession. She also holds a graduate degree from Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politician, Berlin.

A woman rights activist and good orator, she is the only young member of the party to climb the success ladder in a short span of 7 years of her political career.

In an exclusive interview with Iamin, Nupur shares about her experience as a member of BJP, talks about the controversial 'Ghar Wapsi' issue and ongoing preparations for the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls.

Q. How does you day start? What is the daily work routine of a party worker?

Regular days start with a cup of tea with parents and reading news. But everyday is a new day, with varied schedules and since we have been in election mode for over a year, the strategy meetings, party work, organizing membership camps, participating on TV debates etc - it is all quite laborious and unending, yet engaging and fun.

Q. How did you become a part of BJP and what is the role that you're playing in the party?

I was elected as the DUSU president in 2008 and made the media co in-charge of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the party in 2010. I'm also the executive committee member of BJP Delhi state. I was put in the media committee for Delhi Legislative Assembly elections in 2013. This year, I have been made a member of the special media committee.

In the BJP my role is, as explained above, largely to manage media, discuss the party's ideology on the media and most importantly to mobilize youth support for the organization.

Q. How is it working with a major political party of the country?

As a member of the executive, I have travelled to many cities and villages. During Lok Sabha elections, I went to Saharanpur, Amritsar and Benaras. I also went to Kurukshetra, Haryana for Delhi Assembly elections. Apart from travelling, I do a lot of ground work in Delhi. There are also a lot of things that I do for the party, I have several times spoken on behalf of the party on television programs. Currently, I'm particularly working on attracting more and more young women into the BJP nationwide, specially in Delhi. After that, I will be going to Andhra Pradesh to encourage young women below the age of 40 to join the party.

Member of Lok Sabha and President, BJYM Anurag Thakur with Nupur Sharma at the BJYM SHE (Safe, Honoured, Empowered) Women membership campaign.

Q. Why did you choose BJP to work with?

It's because of its ideology. I was born and brought up to be an individual who is self-respecting and who would respect the country in which she lives in and that’s what brought me to join this party. Call it patriotism or nationalism, this has got me into this party.

Q. The BJP is labelled as communal party which is inclined towards the ‘RSS ideology’. Do you think it is right for a major political party of a democratic country to be intolerant towards other religions?

It’s a hype which has been created unnecessarily which is not true at all. BJP is in fact one of the most secular party of the country. We have made space for people belonging to any caste, creed or religion to join the party.

Q. What about practices like ‘Ghar Vapsi’ which are taking place under the BJP’s rule?

Ghar Vapsi is not forced conversion, it's actually re-conversion. And it is not a BJP policy. BJP wants to pass an anti-conversion law bill in the Parliament. In fact, this question should be asked to all other ‘so-called’ secular parties who try to be secular but their manifestos and agendas are more communal. They should be answering why were they quiet when union minister Venkaiah Naidu proposed for anti-conversion law bill. If conversion is such a problem for those parties, then why did not they support for this anti-conversion law bill. Had the bill been passed, there would not be forced conversion at all.

Q. How are you preparing for the Delhi Assembly polls?

Our on-ground activities are going on. From November 1, we launched our membership drive in which we have crossed the 3 crore mark. We had membership drives in each mandal (ward), at every polling booth. Right now it's person to person touch, however, the real campaigning would start when we will announce our candidates.

Q. What have you done to engage more and more women to join the party?

We launched our membership drive in Connaught Place and in Central Park, outside Palika Bazar. In this drive, we encouraged women above the age of 18 years to become a member of the party. We got a great response as 298 women enrolled themselves. On 28th, 29th and 30th December, we organized a membership drive for women across the country. We asked our state and mandal units to carry out drives catering to women. The Mahila Morcha team and Yuva Morcha team came out, went to girls colleges and hostels, and urged students to join the party.

Q. What are the challenges you face while working with the party?

Nothing really, I think I would face challenges if I was in any other party. The culture of the party is very respectful. We have a habit of addressing everybody be it younger, senior, same age with ‘Ji’. The culture, way of greeting (Namaskar) we follow here is very warm. In the initial days of my political career, they treated me like a child and now as an important member of the party.

Q. What will be your role precisely in the upcoming Delhi assembly polls?

I am asking for a ticket of course. I have fought an election before so I know pretty much how it is. If I get a ticket, you will see my capacity as a candidate. If I don’t get a ticket, then my job would certainly be helping the party in my constituency. Right now, my focus is building a strong team of young and educated women who will support the BJP and work of it.

Q. How is it working with the senior leaders in the party?

It was through ABVP that I joined BJP. Like I said, I feel very comfortable working here and the people are very helpful. I can unabashedly go and tell my seniors if I find something unfair. Thankfully, till now no such thing happened. When I joined the BJYM in 2010, I told them specifically that I will be going abroad to study, so, I need a year off. I told them not to give me any such responsibility that I may not be able to meet at the end of the three year term. So, they put me in the national executive which also is a big jump from ABVP. The relationship with the seniors is such that they are always there to help me whenever I meet them and I share a lot of ideas with them. I share a very good friendship and rapport with Smriti Irani Ji, Nirmala Sita Raman Ji, Arun Jaitely Ji, Sushma Ji.

Q. Do you think BJP is a party with a vision?

The BJP had at some point of time lost its vision, but now with Narendra Modi Ji, it has regained its vision and is not far from reaching its goal. To see a country where sex ratio is not skewed, to see a country where opportunities for education and employment are equally and fairly distributed amongst its people irrespective of the religion, caste and creed; a happy, healthy and developed country.

Q. What are some of your major achievements which helped the party? Is your job important to achieve the vision of the party?

I do both on-ground and back-end activities. I organize a lot of interaction and reach-out programs amongst university students and young professionals and my current major responsibility, given by the National BJP youth wing (BJYM) and Delhi state BJP is to ensure increased women membership and participation in our activities. Now, since the BJP is the first amongst all to pass a resolution to the effect of reservation for women office-bearers in party ranks, I do believe the party has reposed some trust and faith in my abilities for this job of mobilizing and inducting new women members.

Q. What are your personal goals and aspirations?

I want to see myself at national level but I want to begin from the ground. I started with student politics, therefore I am asking for an assembly ticket from New Delhi constituency. I am a firm believer that experience is your biggest teacher and a long jump without a base is not exactly proper development of a human being.

Q. You wish to contest election from New Delhi constituency. Does that mean you are ready to contest against Arvind Kejriwal?

I am more than ready for the challenge - as I strongly and sincerely believe my home constituency deserves much, much better. NDMC or New Delhi is the constituency where I was born and brought up and continue to live in till date. My affinity to the area and it's people is quite inexplicable - something only those who are domiciled here would experience.

The constituency demands a peoples' representative who lives and works amongst them and works to the best of her ability to "solve" their problems. For over 16 years now the constituency has largely remained leader-less as the two CM candidates were mostly MIA and unapproachable and not once did the constituents get a chance to meet them on a personal and regular basis except during election time.