Virendra Kumar Khatik’s ride from fixing cycle punctures to Modi’s ministry
MoS for women and child development recalls childhood when he used to work in his father’s cycle repair shop in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district.india Updated: Sep 03, 2017 18:50 IST
A new entrant in Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s ministerial team, Virendra Kumar Khatik on Sunday recalled his childhood when he used to fix punctures in cycle tubes at his father’s shop in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district. “Life was tough,” Modi’s new minister of state for women and child development told HT.
“I was in Class 5 when I started sitting at the shop. Initially, I helped my father, but was not serious. He often scolded me. Gradually, I learnt repairing skills from him and took responsibility of running the shop,” said Khatik, 63. “My father took care of all our needs and educated me and my siblings with earnings from the shop.”
Khatik, a Dalit face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said he ran the shop till he left to do his graduation at Dr Hari Singh Gour University in Sagar.
A leader from the impoverished Bundelkhand region, Khatik has been winning Lok Sabha elections since 1996 on the party’s ticket and is serving his sixth term, having won in 2014 from Tikamgarh. Critics often accuse him of not doing enough for Bundelkhand’s development, but he rarely responds with statements to the media.
During election campaigns, Khatik makes it a point to let voters know that he hasn’t forgotten cycle repairing skills. He has been known to stop at roadside cycle shops for quick chats and hands-on repair jobs.
An MA in economics and PhD on child labour, Khatik maintains a low-profile in public life. He also maintains his old scooter, which he rides occasionally in Sagar.
Associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), seen as the ideological fount of the BJP, since childhood, he held several posts in student and youth organisations, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), before making a mark in mainstream politics.
Khatik said he took part in the total revolution movement initiated by Jayaprakash Narayan in 1975 and was jailed for 16 months under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for raising his voice against Emergency.