Yesterday was a good day for the representation of vitiligo in India’s political landscape. As the world’s largest democracy declared the result of 2019 General Election, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, a seasoned politician with vitiligo, won Bareilly Lok Sabha (LS) seat. Santosh has been handling the Ministry of Labour and Employment in the Government of India since 2014.
Santosh checkmated his opponents Bhagwat Saran Gangwar of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Saman Tahir of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP). Earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had won in a row from this LS seat from 1989 to 2009 (six successive terms). Santosh reclaimed (after losing 2009-2014 term) Bareilly seat in 2014 by defeating his opponent by 240000 votes. In this general election, BJP fielded Union Minister and sitting Member of Parliament (MP) garnered 565270 votes with 52.91% vote share. Including his latest win, Santosh has been elected MP from Bareilly for a record eight times.
Santosh has prominent vitiligo all over his chin, lips, nose, and hands, but the self-made politician never seemed to care about it. Born in Bareilly, Santosh attended Agra University and the Rohilkhand University, from where he completed his ‘Bachelor of Science’ and ‘Bachelor of Laws’ Degrees. He served as Minister of State for Textiles from 2014 to 2016 before swearing in as Minister of State for Finance.
Indian politics is possibly the only arena where vitiligo is not underrepresented. Other than Santosh, many Indian politicians such as Chandrababu Naidu (Ex-chief minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh), Waris Pathan (a political representative of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) and Sunil Singh (spokesperson of Janata Dal (United)) are not living, but thriving with vitiligo.
Team Unite For Vitiligo congratulates Santosh Kumar Gangwar on this historic win. We hope many vitiligans would draw inspiration from Santosh’s journey who has established a solid political career without indulging in any vitiligo imposed inhibitions.