Selja Kumari, a prominent Indian politician, has made significant contributions to her country's political landscape throughout her illustrious career. Born on September 24, 1962, in Parbhuwala Hisar, Haryana, she hails from a politically active family. Her father, Chaudhary Dalbir Singh, was a politician associated with the Indian National Congress. Selja's journey from her early education to becoming a Minister in the Government of India is a testament to her dedication to public service.
Selja Kumari's educational foundation was built at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in New Delhi. Later, she pursued higher education at Panjab University, where she successfully completed her master's degree. Her academic journey equipped her with knowledge and critical thinking skills that would serve her well in her future career.
Selja initiated her political career by joining the Mahila Congress, where her commitment to the political cause shone through. In 1990, she was elected as the President of the Mahila Congress, marking the beginning of her active involvement in Indian politics.
Her electoral debut came in 1991 when she was elected to the 10th Lok Sabha, representing the Sirsa constituency in Haryana. During this period, she served as the Union Minister of State for Education and Culture in the Congress government led by Narasimha Rao.
Despite the Congress's electoral setbacks in Haryana during the 1996 elections, Selja's political prowess was evident as she secured re-election to the 11th Lok Sabha.
After being elected to the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004, Selja Kumari's political influence extended beyond national boundaries. She actively participated in various international conferences and summits, broadening her understanding of global issues and fostering international relations.
Her dedication to international engagement was highlighted when she was elected as a member of the Governing Board of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in 2005. Selja also maintained ties with other international organisations, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. She even headed the Commonwealth Consultative Group on Human Settlements, further underlining her commitment to addressing diverse global challenges.
Selja's contributions extended to her roles in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments led by Dr. Manmohan Singh. In the wake of the UPA's electoral victory in 2004, she was appointed as the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. Her tenure in this role focused on addressing the housing and poverty issues faced by urban populations.
Continuing her dedicated service, Selja Kumari assumed the position of Minister of Tourism during her tenure as a Member of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha. This period was marked by her efforts to enhance India's international relations, including official visits to countries like Italy and Cyprus to bolster tourism and cultural ties.
However, her political journey was not without challenges. In 2011, she faced legal proceedings as she was issued notices by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The notices were in response to a petition accusing her of various charges, including forgery and criminal intimidation.
In 2012, Selja Kumari took on another crucial role by becoming the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. During her five-year tenure, she actively worked to advance women's rights and the rights of marginalised communities in India. Her dedication to these issues has left a lasting impact on the country.
Selja Kumari's career took another turn in 2014 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, representing her home state of Haryana. However, her journey faced a challenge in the 2019 general elections, where she contested the Ambala constituency but was unsuccessful, losing to the Bhartiya Janata Party's Rattan Lal Kataria.
Despite this setback, Selja Kumari displayed resilience and commitment to the cause of public service. In September 2019, she returned to state politics with renewed enthusiasm, as she was appointed the president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, just ahead of the state's assembly elections.
Selja Kumari's political journey continues to inspire many in India. Her commitment to social justice, women's empowerment, and the rights of marginalised communities remains a cornerstone of her political legacy.