National Convenor, INC Social Media| August 19, 2020
I was always a rebel, wanting to do more and do things differently. And I was particularly struck by the stark contrast between things back home & in Dubai, where my family stayed for a while. I kept wondering why leaders weren’t doing more. But for someone like me, from a simple, middle-class family, with no family ties to politics, I just didn’t know where to start. I was very lucky that the Congress Party was very accessible through it’s students & youth wings. I became a NSUI member and eventually ran for the position of NSUI State President of Goa. I won and beat the incumbent President.
Towards the end of my tenure, I was chosen to be in a Party ad for the 2014 elections. But all hell broke loose when the BJP caricatured the ad. I didn’t expect the kind of personal abuse & trolling that they subjected me to. It was unbelievable! They accused me of being party to a 300-crore scam, of being jailed, of being related to politicians. Because of my religion, I was even called a terrorist. Worst of all, my pictures were morphed in lewd & disgusting ways. Even the mainstream media joined in.
Can you imagine the kind of humiliation my family & suffered? I stayed in my room for days, just crying. I was so afraid to leave the house. We all feared that I would be recognised & attacked. What was particularly heart wrenching was that my younger brother who was 9 years old would reply to trolls online saying “Don’t say such things about my sister”.
I kept asking myself why this happened to me. Why was I singled out? Was it because I was a woman? Or because I was Muslim? It made me realise that I shouldn’t step back because representation is very important.
And so, I resolved to work harder. My strength was those people who called saying their girls wanted to be like me; it was people in the party who encouraged me to move past this & do more (like the Cambridge & British Council’s “Future Leaders Program” that I recently attended), and of course my family. The BJP taught me a lesson that I will never forget. There are those who’ll go low & there’re those who will go high. I chose to be the latter.