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Made in Chandigarh: This city is peerless, says AICC chief spokesperson

The chief spokesman of AICC says he owes his career in law to the city. His wish list for it includes an underground rapid transport system.

punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2018 13:22 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
made in chandigarh,lawyer,supreme court
Randeep Singh Surjewala. (Karun Sharma/HT)

Name: Randeep Singh Surjewala

Age: 51

Designation: I am a lawyer practising in the Supreme Court and various high courts of the country. I am also the chief spokesperson of All India Congress Committee (AICC). In 2014, I was elected an MLA from the Kaithal assembly constituency for the fourth time. I remained a cabinet minister in the Haryana government from 2005 to 2014 and held various portfolios. I also led the Indian Youth Congress from 2000 to 2005. Earlier from 1995 to 1998, I was a senator at Panjab University.

Hometown

I was born in Chandigarh but did my schooling from my hometown Narwana in Haryana before returning to the City Beautiful for higher studies.

Education

I did my schooling from Adarsh Bal Mandir and Arya Higher Secondary School, Narwana. I graduated with honours in commerce from DAV College, Sector 10, before doing Bachelor of Law from Panjab University between 1985 and 1988. I followed it up with post-graduation in political science from PU in 1995.

My Chandigarh connect

Chandigarh will always have a special place in my heart and mind as it was here that I discovered new vistas of knowledge and a successful career in law at the high court. The serene beauty of the city, its pollution-free environs, open green spaces, and the recreation offered by the leisure valley and the Sukhna lake make Chandigarh an unmatched city in the entire country, and one of the best in the world. I have very fond memories of my motorcycle rides around the city and the time I spent at the student centre and other happening places in Sector 11 and 15. The friendships I struck during my college and university days have left an indelible imprint on my mind.

Area of expertise

Politics for me is a commitment towards transformation of our environment. My areas of interest have always been agriculture, urban development, infrastructure and sports. While I have inherited my father’s assembly seat, for me politics is not about dynasty. My father, Shamsher Singh Surjewala, who was always a left-of-centre socialist, taught me the importance of inclusive change without which any transformation is meaningless.

I have tremendous respect for the older generation, which has given this country the legacy of freedom, democracy and vibrancy by making sacrifices that my generation cannot even imagine. My father was president of students’ Congress before independence, and the British debarred him from getting education in his district.

My secret sauce

I am very passionate about the transformation of every town and city into thriving hubs of civic amenities, where access to facilities is universal and not concentrated in selectively developed enclaves for the rich. Every citizen, howsoever poor or deprived, must have equal right to and access to all the amenities of the city. This is only way to stop the cities from becoming huge urban slums. This is the biggest challenge for India and Haryana in the next decade.

The turning point

In June 1987, I came down with severe jaundice after which I went into coma. My recovery, which was nothing short of a miracle, re-affirmed my faith in God and in my responsibility towards greater good. This is the driving force in my life.

What I owe to Chandigarh

Right from my birth to education and career, from friendship and opportunities to loads of compassion, I owe a lot to the city.

Things I like to do when I visit Chandigarh

I love to go for a refreshing walk at the Sukhna and leisure valley. I love visiting my old friends settled in Chandigarh. The city is endearingly familiar; even its air is so friendly that it makes me feel awesome. What’s more, it demands nothing in return. I really want to visit Panjab University library and student centre, but my commitments keep me away.

How has the city changed ?

It has become more congested and with Mohali and Panchkula almost becoming a part of the city, there is tremendous pressure on it, be it on the health or education sector. The traffic has also become very chaotic. Chandigarh is slowly becoming a commuter’s nightmare. It is no longer the slow-paced town of yore. My earliest memory of this city is seeing a lone rickshaw on an absolutely empty road. It was tough to spot a car. Today, it’s difficult to find a parking space.

Change I want to see in the city

There should be more green spaces, more sports facilities, and above all, we must guarantee the security of the citizens. We also need an underground mass rapid transport system that does not alter the character of the city. It may be financially unviable to begin with, but we need it for future. I would like the city to retain its ambience and architecture.

The best advice I ever got

It was from my father who said there is no substitute for hard work.

My advice to budding lawyers/politicians

Believe in yourself and give 100 percent commitment. Politics is not a profession, but a way of life, which helps you rise above the self to commit yourself to a higher purpose of meaningful change.

(As told to Hillary Victor)

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 13:21 IST