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From Aggarwal to Bansal

india Updated: Nov 13, 2009 00:05 IST
Kumkum Chadha
Kumkum Chadha
Hindustan Times
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In three years, Pawan Kumar Bansal has become more confident and talks much more than he ever did.

From being monosyllabic he has graduated to complete sentences, from half-smiles to a hearty laugh and from Hindi and Punjabi to English.

Sum total: Bansal has come into his own. Najma Heptullah, former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson, said: “He never created a ruckus in the House (Parliament).”

Probably because Bansal was done with unruly behaviour years ago. Bansal thought nothing of giving a slip to the cops, sneaking into the Punjab chief minister’s official chamber, ransacking it and declaring what they then dubbed as a “takeover of the government”. In other words, laying siege way back in 1978.

His father, Piara Lal, had the surname Aggarwal. For reasons best known to him, he wanted his son to be known as Bansal.

His father pulled Bansal out of the local school in their native village Tapa Mandi, currently in Barnala district, some 100 km from Chandigarh in Punjab. Overnight, things changed for Bansal: from a thatched-roof makeshift school, he found himself among the elite in Yadavindra Public school in Patiala, another district in Punjab. This was his first makeover:
“I learnt to live on my own,” Bansal told Hindustan Times.His father did not go beyond local politics. But Bansal grew up watching chief ministers coming to meet his father: “Why don’t you move over to state politics?” he often asked his dad.

Pat came the reply: “I will send you there”. He did but did not live to see him reach Delhi: first as MP and then to the council of ministers: “A grassroots worker, committed and judicious. Even after losing two elections, he re-built his base and staged a comeback. He did not give up,” said Mukul Wasnik, Bansal’s Cabinet colleague.

Bansal’s political career would have remained colourless and uneventful had he not got into a slanging match with the governor of Punjab, S.F. Rodrigues. Bansal was under attack for his criticism of the governor because the latter, a Constitutional authority, was not one which a minister was competent to comment.

The two had locked horns over a land allotment to Delhi Public School Society, run by Bansal. The governor had pointed out “serious irregularities” in the allotment.

Cricket and football are a complete NO: For the first he has no stamina and the second he dreads for an ingrained fear of hurting his ankle.