Meenakashi Lekhi (54), who was serving her second term as Lok Sabha MP for New Delhi, assumed office as Union Minister of State (MoS) for the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday.
The Ministry of External Affairs now has three MOS - V Muraleedharan, Meenakshi Lekhi and Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh.
After taking charge, Lekhi said, "On behalf of all friends, I express my gratitude to the Prime Minister, Home Minister, party chief and the entire team that they prioritised meritocracy and hard work and gave positions to everyone. India has been brought not only on the maps but also in the ministries."
Lekhi came to the forefront of national politics when her contempt petition before the Supreme Court had forced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to apologize for his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ jibe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lekhi, who has also served as a Member of New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and is a Supreme Court Lawyer and Social Worker, has been described by fellow party workers as a fighter. “Fighting back whenever cornered — this is the quality that has pushed Lekhi to top, making her stand out amid a crowd of BJP leaders. This is the attitude that helped her bag a ministerial berth,” BJP leaders said.
Born in Delhi, Lekhi did her graduation from Hindu College of the Delhi University (DU) and joined the Campus Law Centre for an LLB degree. She registered herself with the Bar Council in 1990, and started practising in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. Lekhi is married to Aman Lekhi, who is the Additional Solicitor General of India in the Supreme Court.
Lekhi, who was was earlier a part of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an organisation associated with the RSS, was invited to join BJP by Nitin Gadkari in 2010.
She was appointed vice-president of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha in 2010. As a national spokesperson, she articulated and advocated the party’s policies and programmes while taking on her political opponents. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, she defeated Ajay Maken of the Congress by a margin of 270,000 votes.
Her experience as serving on different parliamentary panels, including the Standing Committee on External Affairs, Committee of Privileges, and General Purposes Committee, helped her get noticed among other leaders.
As a parliamentarian, Lekhi was part of drafting committees of important Bills, including the Women Reservation Bill and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill.
“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,” said a party leader.