Skip to main site content.

Not done yet

Enthusiastic 96-year-old candidate makes a splash in India election

November 6, 2015

In the northern Indian state of Bihar, Sumitra Devi Mandal is running a door-to-door campaign. Her long days start on foot as, in scorching temperatures, she meets community members in her district. “I do miss my family, but I cannot sit idle and just see the corruption and crime unfolding around us,” she told the LA Times this week. The 96-year-old mother of five, running for an assembly seat from the Nationalist People’s Party, is an unlikely candidate, but one who is truly making a splash. It’s nothing new for her, she said. “This is what I have been doing all my life,” Mandal said.

In 1942, Mandal was a 23-year-old freedom fighter under Mohandas Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement aimed to free India from Britain’s colonizing rule. She was shot by British police during a protest and visited by Gandhi in her home before India became free in 1947. She became a member of the Indian National Congress party and won a seat in national parliament shortly after, only to join the opposition in 1975. She’s been a social activist in the decades following, even after the death of her husband 25 years ago, with whom she was a farmer in the village of Harpatti.

She’s up against candidates from more popular parties and not likely to win, but winning may not be the point of her campaign. “Irrespective of the results,” she said, “I will start campaigning through Bihar and commit to social work wherever I can be of any use,” she said.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.