Selja Kumari: A Trailblazing Political Odyssey of Commitment and Leadership
Selja Kumari, a distinguished Indian politician, has left an indelible mark on the nation’s political canvas through her illustrious career. Born on September 24, 1962, in Parbhuwala Hisar, Haryana, she inherits a legacy of political activism, with her father, Chaudhary Dalbir Singh, being associated with the Indian National Congress. Selja’s journey, from her early education to assuming the role of a Minister in the Government of India, stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to public service.
Early Life and Education
Selja Kumari’s educational voyage began at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in New Delhi. Subsequently, she pursued higher education at Panjab University, where she earned her master’s degree. Her academic pursuits equipped her with the knowledge and critical thinking skills that would later define her political trajectory.
Initiating a Political Career (1990–2003)
Selja embarked on her political journey by joining the Mahila Congress, showcasing her dedication to the political cause. In 1990, she ascended to the position of President of the Mahila Congress, marking the commencement of her active involvement in Indian politics.
Her electoral debut occurred in 1991 when she secured a seat in the 10th Lok Sabha, representing the Sirsa constituency in Haryana. During this tenure, she served as the Union Minister of State for Education and Culture in the Congress government led by Narasimha Rao.
Despite electoral setbacks for the Congress in Haryana during the 1996 elections, Selja’s political acumen shone as she secured re-election to the 11th Lok Sabha.
Engagement on the International Stage (2004 Onward)
After her election to the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004, Selja Kumari’s influence extended beyond national boundaries. Actively participating in various international conferences and summits, she broadened her understanding of global issues and nurtured international relations.
Her dedication to international engagement was underscored when she became a member of the Governing Board of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in 2005. Selja also maintained connections with other international organisations, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and led the Commonwealth Consultative Group on Human Settlements, underscoring her commitment to addressing diverse global challenges.
Role in UPA Governments (2004–2013)
Selja’s contributions extended to her roles in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments led by Dr. Manmohan Singh. Following the UPA’s electoral victory in 2004, she was appointed as the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. Her tenure focused on addressing housing and poverty issues faced by urban populations.
Continuing her dedicated service, Selja Kumari assumed the position of Minister of Tourism during her tenure as a Member of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha. This period was marked by her efforts to enhance India’s international relations through official visits to countries like Italy and Cyprus to strengthen tourism and cultural ties.
However, her political journey faced challenges. In 2011, legal proceedings were initiated against her by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in response to a petition accusing her of various charges, including forgery and criminal intimidation.
In 2012, Selja Kumari took on another crucial role by becoming the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. During her five-year tenure, she actively worked to advance women’s rights and the rights of marginalised communities in India, leaving a lasting impact on the country.
Rajya Sabha and Haryana Politics (2014–Present)
Selja Kumari’s career took another turn in 2014 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha, representing her home state of Haryana. However, her journey faced a challenge in the 2019 general elections, where she contested the Ambala constituency but was unsuccessful, losing to the Bhartiya Janata Party’s Rattan Lal Kataria.
Undeterred, Selja Kumari displayed resilience and commitment to the cause of public service. In September 2019, she returned to state politics with renewed enthusiasm, being appointed the president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, just ahead of the state’s assembly elections.
Selja Kumari’s political odyssey continues to be a source of inspiration in India. Her dedication to social justice, women’s empowerment, and the rights of marginalised communities remains a cornerstone of her enduring political legacy.