‘Jaitley, Gadkari, Swaraj taught me how to be a people’s leader’

Updated - May 09, 2024 01:07 am IST

Published - May 09, 2024 01:06 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Kamaljeet Sehrawat, the BJP’s West Delhi nominee, says she received one of her earliest lessons in politics from the party stalwart, the late Arun Jaitley.

“This was around 2007. I had just joined the BJP as its Najafgarh district vice president. I would often call Arun Jaitley to discuss ideas and issues with him. Not once did he miss a call. On the rare occasion he did, he would remember to call back. That’s how I learnt how to become a people’s leader,” the BJP nominee says. She also learnt a lot about leadership from seniors like Nitin Gadkari and the late Sushma Swaraj, Ms. Sehrawat adds.

The lesson she learnt from Jaitley stood her in good stead over the 17 years since, during which she has fought elections thrice — once in the Assembly poll that she lost and twice in civic elections that she won. During this time, she has also served the BJP’s Delhi unit as general secretary and women’s wing president. In 2014, she was appointed Mayor of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), one of the three erstwhile municipal bodies that were merged into a unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi in January 2022.

“After I fought my first election [in 2008 from Matiala Assembly seat], I learned how important it is to connect with voters. I started saving phone numbers of people in the constituency and interacting with them regularly. It helped me better understand local issues,” she says.

“It is because I’ve been with them through the past several years that people now consider me a part of their family,” she adds.

Housing for all

The BJP leader says she understands the problems faced by residents of unauthorised colonies as she was born in one, in west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar. On her agenda is a plan to provide better living conditions for people and ensure planned housing for all by identifying and developing vacant plots of land in the Lok Sabha constituency.

Ms. Sehrawat, whose term as the SDMC Mayor was marked by a drive to build women-only ‘pink toilets’ and install LED lights in south Delhi (for which she was awarded by the President), also plans to carry out repair works in the existing parks, sports facilities, and community halls, and build more such infrastructure. She also has plans to provide subsidised solar panels to people in her constituency, which includes villages, housing colonies, and gated societies.

If elected, the BJP nominee says she will work towards improving the constituency’s connectivity, move a proposal for metro connectivity between Najafgarh and Nangloi, and create an app on which west Delhi’s residents would be able to register grievances.

“I’m going to work on the civic issues. Also, I’m going to move a proposal for metro connectivity between Najafgarh and Nangloi,” she says.

‘20 cups of tea’

The usual campaign day for Ms. Sehrawat starts at 7 a.m., when she, accompanied by her team, goes out for a morning walk and interacts with people in Dwarka’s parks. Later in the day, she leads roadshows and participates in public meetings.

When she is meeting people at her four-storey home in Dwarka, she ensures that tea is served to everyone.

“Tea is made and served every five minutes at my home. I am a chai lover and can sometimes have up to 20 cups of a day depending on the number of people I meet,” the BJP leader says.

Ms. Sehrawat, whose family has had a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, says her four-year stint as a teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya gave her the strength to cope with losses in her political career.

“When I lost my first electoral contest, I wasn’t distraught. Being a teacher has taught me never to give up. After the results were declared, I told my husband that we should go out and watch a movie. I told him and my friends, who had come to offer emotional support, that they shouldn’t lose heart because ‘tomorrow is a new day’,” she says.

Time out with family

Talking about how she likes to unwind, Ms. Sehrawat says she goes with her family for short trips to Haridwar, Vaishno Devi, and Balaji temple in Rajasthan. She also likes to go on vacations to Europe and the U.K. “I love spending time in cottages and making food with my family,” she says.

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