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Virendra Khatik’s Journey To Modi 3.0


Virendra Kumar Khatik took charge as Social Justice and Empowerment Minister today

New Delhi:

As a child, Virendra Kumar helped his father plug punctures at their cycle repairing shop in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar. In the later years, he would pick up more skills and run the shop. The Dalit youngster then completed his graduation and went on to earn a PhD in child labour.

Mr Kumar won his first Lok Sabha election in 1996 and has not looked back since. After four terms as Sagar MP, he continued his winning streak from the Tikamgarh constituency created after delimitation. The 74-year-old leader, who served as a junior minister in the first Narendra Modi government, has returned as a cabinet minister in Modi 3.0. This time, he is the Minister For Social Justice and Empowerment.

After taking charge in his new role this morning, Mr Kumar told NDTV that he is grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda for this opportunity.

“I have always believed in working at the grassroots. I am from an ordinary family and my lifestyle is still ordinary. This role has made me very happy. This department provided me an opportunity to help those who really need it,” he said.

Mr Kumar said he and his team would work towards reaching the goals set by the Prime Minister.

Asked if he got this responsibility because of his humble background and struggles, he replied, “I still believe in living an ordinary life. I am a minister now, but when I travel, I wash my own clothes. The (minister’s post) is a short stint. During this time, if you are able to connect with the common man, then the society places its trust in you and the journey continues. The society then stands with you. I am thankful that the party gave me an opportunity to contest elections eight times.” Mr Kumar won by a margin of over 4 lakh votes this time, bigger than the margin in his earlier seven wins.

On his focus areas for the first 100 days of the government, the minister replied that the team has set several targets, including giving out scholarships and building hostels. The ministry, he said, plans to come up with steps to assist different sections, including transgenders, rag-pickers and senior citizens.

Mr Kumar said the ministry plans to open more Garima Greh facilities across the country. These facilities provide shelter, food and medical care to transgender persons. “There are 12 Garima Grehs now, we plan to open one each in every state,” he said.

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