The Congress has appointed its national secretary and Himachal MLA Asha Kumari as the party affairs in-charge for poll-bound Punjab. Asha has succeeded senior party leader Kamal Nath who had to resign after an uproar over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. But she remains largely unknown outside of her state, particularly in Punjab, where she is tasked with the uphill task of reviving the party’s fortunes after two consecutive defeats in the assembly polls. Here is what you need to know about her:
1. Daughter of former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary Madneshwar Saran Singh Deo, Asha Kumari was born on September 23, 1955, in Delhi. After her education in Bhopal, she was married to RK Brijendra Singh, scion of the erstwhile royal family of Chamba.
2. She was elected as president of the student union at Bhopal University in 1975; also remained general secretary of the MP state unit besides being member of the All India Congress Committee.
3. Since she married and settled in Himachal, her further political career has been in the hill state. She was elected MLA from Banikhet constituency in Chamba first in 1985, then in 1993, 1998 and 2003. She is currently serving her fifth term (since 2012) as MLA from the segment that was renamed Dalhousie after delimitation.
4. She also served as minister of state for primary education (independent charge) from 1995 to 1998; then was higher education minister from 2003 to 2005, in HP.
5. The most talked-about part of her profile at present is a land-grab case, in which a Chamba court convicted her and sentenced her to a year’s jail in February. She was granted bail the same day. Charges against here were that she manipulated revenue records, fabricated wills and transferred 60 bighas of forest land in the name of her husband Brijender Singh. In March, the Himachal Pradesh high court suspended the sentence, seeing merit in her appeal. The case is going on in the HC.