Inheriting the traits of a politician from her father Dhanna Singh Gulshan — a freedom fighter, senior Akali leader and union minister in the Morarji Desai government of the late 1970s — Paramjit Kaur Gulshan has carved a niche for herself as an Akali parliamentarian.
Having taken premature retirement as a school principal, Gulshan went on to become a member of Parliament for the second time in 2009. After winning the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat in 2004, she bagged the Faridkot seat by defeating Congress candidate Sukhwinder Singh Danny.Gulshan, 65, the youngest of five sisters and a brother, turned out to be the only one among them who showed keenness to step into her father’s big shoes. Like a good pupil, she started accompanying him to political rallies as a child; later, she avidly pasted posters on walls during campaigning.
Unflinching support from her husband Nirmal Singh, a retired judge, and her daughters have helped Gulshan devote time to her political career.
Despite defeating Danny comprehensively, Gulshan had a lot to prove so as to meet the expectations of the electorate, ‘pampered’ by their former Akali MP, none other than Sukhbir Badal.
Passion for politics
Gulshan recalls, “As an educationist, I served in various schools and also remained the deputy district education officer, but politics was my passion and I followed every political event even as a teenager. When Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal approached me to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bathinda in 2004, I decided to go for it as I wanted to keep my father alive in the memories of the people and the party.”
Tours in the rough terrain of the Malwa region was not a bed of roses, but Gulshan, like her father (who died in 1987), took every challenge in her stride.
As the daughter of a seasoned politician, Gulshan has the arsenal needed in politics — deep pockets, manpower and a lobby of local leaders.
Gulshan claims that she has been persistently taking up the cause of Malwa’s cancer patients in Parliament and got sanction for `32 lakh from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for various cancer patients undergoing treatment at Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS); Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh; Bikaner cancer hospital; and hospitals in New Delhi.
Expressing his dissatisfaction with Gulshan’s performance, Resham Singh, a Faridkot-based farmer, says it is important for an MP to interact with people of the constituency, but it has not been the former’s priority. “She has never done anything to address the problems of the farming community. Dozens of suicides by farmers went unnoticed by her, whereas she should have taken up the matter with the Akali-BJP government as well as in Parliament,” he adds.
Congress leader Sukhwinder Singh Danny, who lost to Gulshan in the 2009 polls, says, “The Faridkot belt is notorious for unsafe drinking water, which is a major cause of numerous cancer cases. Gulshan has neither got any project from the Centre to provide clean drinking water for the region nor taken effective steps to check the rise in cancer cases.”
Part 26 of 34:
Shruti Choudhry, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh