Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) is often considered the preschool for budding politicians and has produced several veterans, but former DUSU secretary Deepika Deshwal became a household name after her participation in sports and from championing issues pertaining to gender and human rights in Northwest Delhi’s Saraswati Vihar and Pitampura.
The Indian National Congress, in its pursuit to regain its lost ground during the upcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, has given a ticket to the national-level wrestler. She will contest from Saraswati Vihar ward number 58.
From being a wrestler to now a politician, Deshwal has a journey to recount, “Initially, during my school days, I was into basketball, but my father and uncle were wrestlers. In college, I took up wrestling and participated first in inter-college competitions. Later, with professional training, I represented Delhi at the national level and won six gold medals. During graduation, I started participating in student politics and contested the DUSU elections and won.”
The 34-year-old, who is currently pursuing PhD in Buddhist history studies from DU’s Arts faculty, provides free self-defence classes to students and the underprivileged in her locality.
Interestingly, this is not Deshwal’s maiden attempt at contesting the polls. In 2012, she did not get a ticket as she was considerd too young. However, as a law graduate, she started working as a standing counsel in the MCD in 2014.
“As a child, my parents treated me equally with my brother; I have always been treated and raised as a boy. I always wanted to be recognised for who I am and wanted to do something different. I did law and worked for women’s rights, and against child and women trafficking,” she said.
Asked about the people’s response and how she is going to win their hearts amidst the tough competition put forward by the AAP opposition, she said, “Both AAP and BJP have fielded outsiders, and I was born and raised in this locality. Due to my active participation in wrestling and mention in the Guinness Book of World Records, people recognise me. The locals pushed me into filing a nomination.”
Asked what her focus will be if she wins the seat, Deshwal said, “Besides garbage and cleaning, parks and roads in our area are in a poor condition. There is no proper track or walking area for the elderly and there is no proper facility or sports complex or stadium where children can go and practice. If I win, my focus will be to rebuild the poorly maintained gaushala, develop parks with high-tech tracks and develop a sports complex for children.”
She aims to start free wrestling and martial art classes for girls in MCD. “I feel self-defence classes in schools are necessary for women’s safety,” she said.