Endearingly called ‘tai’ (elder sister), soft-spoken Sumitra Mahajan, an eight-time BJP MP, is a battle hardened leader who has risen from the ranks to the top post of Lok Sabha Speaker.
Interestingly, the official name of 71-year-old Mahajan, the eldest and senior-most among women Members of Parliament, in the 16th Lok Sabha MPs’ list is also mentioned as ‘Sumitra Mahajan (Tai)’.
Mahajan is the second woman after Meira Kumar to be elected as Lok Sabha Speaker.
Starting her political life at the age of 39, Mahajan became the deputy mayor and then an MP from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. She was a Minister of State in the Atal Behari Vajpayee cabinet from 1999 to 2004, holding different portfolios of Human Resources, Communications and IT and Petroleum and Natural Gas.
A lawyer-turned-politician, Mahajan is known for her trademark simplicity, honesty and clean image besides her impeccable winning record at the hustings.
An active parliamentarian, she has not only headed important committees, but has also been a keen debater and avid questioner inside the House, often seen putting ministers on the mat with her calm but firm interventions.
The mild-mannered Mahajan has over the years emerged as a force to reckon with in Indore where she never lost since she first became an MP in 1989 and a generation of opposition leaders have been waiting to trounce her. She, however, had lost the Indore Assembly election thrice before becoming an MP.
Mahajan won her Lok Sabha seat for the eighth consecutive time in this election by an impressive margin of 4.67 lakh votes.
Born on April 12, 1943 in Chiplun of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra, Mahajan became a municipal corporator in 1982. Within the BJP, Mahajan has grown from being President of the BJP Mahila Morcha in Madhya Pradesh in 1990 to being the national general secretary in 1998.
Mahajan was vice president of the party’s Madhya Pradesh unit in 1992 and later Secretary of BJP’s MP unit before becoming chairperson of the BJP Parliamentary Party in the state in 1995. Besides, she was BJP Mahila Morcha head in 2005.
As a Parliamentarian, Mahajan has been a member of various Committees including those on Human Resource Development and its Sub-Committee on Value-based Education, Convenor of the Sub-Committee on Drug Control, Joint Committee on the Empowerment of Women and its Sub-Committee on Appraisal of Laws relating to Women—Criminal Laws.
She has also been Chairperson of the Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment as well as of the Standing Committee on Rural Development.
Mahajan was married to late Jayant Mahajan, an advocate of Indore and has two sons.
Her other interests include Marathi literature, poetry and drama. She is associated with many cultural organisations. The BJP leader is also active in the area of women’s welfare and social reforms. She has also been a former president of Marathi Academy in Madhya Pradesh, Chairman of Ahilya Utsav Committee, Indore, Contemporary Study Centre, Indore and former director of Indore-Paraspur Sahakari Bank and Maharashtra Brahmin Sahakari Bank.