As a result of a major Union Cabinet reshuffle by the Modi government, 54-year-old Meenakshi Lekhi took oath as a Union Minister of State for the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture on Thursday, July 8. Lekhi is a two-time MP from the prestigious New Delhi constituency and is a graduate of Delhi University.
“They prioritised meritocracy and hard work and gave positions to everyone,” Lekhi said, expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief J.P. Nadda and the entire team.
Lekhi has been a Member of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and is famous for her oratory skills. A popular face of the BJP in Delhi, Lekhi has advocated the party’s policies and programmes for a long time while taking on her political opponents before finally securing a place in the Union Council of Ministers.
Lekhi has taken up very important issues like a permanent commission for women officers in the armed forces. As a lawyer, her contempt petition forced Rahul Gandhi to apologise in 2019 for his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ comment against the Prime Minister.
In 2010, Lekhi was appointed vice president of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha. Further, she has been part of bill drafting committees like the Women Reservation Bill and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill.
Lekhi has also served in various parliamentary panels such as the Standing Committee on External Affairs, Committee of Privileges, and General Purposes Committee. She has also worked as chairperson of the Committee on Public Undertakings and the Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.
“Her sharp oratory and vast knowledge of laws, as she had graduated in the subject, helped her rise through the ranks. The party also wanted a sharp orator to take on the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi,” a senior BJP leader was quoted as saying.
“What worked in Lekhi’s favour here was her sharp legal acumen, bilingual oratory skills and party’s intent to give more representation to women in the Cabinet,” another senior BJP leader said.
Apart from Meenakshi Lekhi (MP from Delhi), Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (MP from Manipur) also assumed charge in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday — leading to the number of deputies to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar increasing to three. An MP from Kerala, V Muraleedharan is already serving as a deputy to Jaishankar.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla welcomed both Lekhi and Singh at the headquarters of the MEA.
With all bases of the country covered in the team MEA and thereby having representation from North, South, East and West of India, it is likely that Indians from every part of the country will be kept invested, and diaspora issues will also be addressed.