In BJP’s wings, young Poonam Madam steps out of her uncle’s shadow in Cong

Poonam Madam, a new, young face in BJP who got the party ticket for Khambhalia seat in Jamnagar the very day she quit Congress on Thursday, prefers to take her past political ties as well as family connections lightly.

Poonam is the daughter of late Hemant Madam, a four-time Independent MLA from Khambhalia during 1972-1990. "I was only a primary member in Congress for four years and never held any position in the party."

Poonam's uncle Vikram Madam, who is the Congress MP from Jamnagar, is considered one of the influential leaders of his party in the state. Asked if a rift in family led her to change her political affiliation, she says, "He (Vikram) is only a distant uncle."

The 32-year-old, who is married to a former defence officer Parminder Mahajan, has made Jamnagar and Khambhalia her base while running Hemant Madam Trust. "I have been working for the uplift of our Ahir community, especially in the field of education. It is like completing the work of my father."

The Ahir community enjoys dominance in Jamnagar district, which could be a reason why BJP chose her over its sitting MLA from Khambhalia.

As recently as 2011, Poonam had given a strong speech against Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Jamnagar city when she, along with Vikram Madam, had attended the conclusion of a cycle rally taken out by rebel BJP MLA Dr Kanu Kalsaria.

However, things changed a few months ago when Modi made an appearance at a religious function held on Dwarka road in Khambhalia. Speculation of Poonam preparing to switch sides began, but it materialised only on the day of announcement of BJP's first for the December Assembly elections.

Party sources said Vikram Madam, who has often challenged Modi, was not quite happy with the rise of Poonam in politics. The MP, who was in Delhi, could not be contacted.

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