'My parents educated me the most'

Her second name might suggest relations to one of the biggest business families in the country. But Rakhi Birla, Aam Aadmi Party’s youngest minister to take oath on Saturday, lives in the unlikeliest of colonies of Mangolpuri in outer Delhi.

Difficult to locate manually, it is mostly the locals who provide directions to her home that lies in the narrowest by lanes of Mangolpuri.

The ‘Birla’ in her name, meanwhile, was due to a mistake by her class 10 schoolteacher.

“My surname is actually Bidhlan. By mistake, my schoolteacher spelled it wrong in my class 10 certificate and the name has stuck ever since,” she says.

Deccan Herald first tried to meet the 26-year-old leader at her residence, but finally managed to catch up with her in a white Wagon R car just outside the party office in the locality. While her vehicle gives the impression that Arvind Kejriwal’s ministers will practice austerity as promised by him, her commands to an associate could come across as rude to some. 

“I don’t want this one. Limca is what I want, Limca,” she screams at her associate who had got a local soft drink for her. On getting Limca, she asks her driver to ‘warm it up’.

 But the struggle AAP candidates went through during the recent election campaign was clear when she spoke to an acquaintance over phone. 

“We have won elections using donations. You also donate to us and then I will give you a party,” she joked with the person on the other side who was apparently asking her to host a party on her victory.

While she insists that interacting with public is what she loves, she says she is like any other ‘normal girl’ when it comes to hobbies.

“I like watching movies and shopping,” she says.

However, mistaking this very young and ‘normal girl’ to be a pushover would be a mistake.

“No one can treat me like a child. My confidence won’t let me be a pushover when I become a minister,” she says.

The confidence and desire to work for the public run in the family blood.

“I have been inspired by my father who is a social worker. That is why I first took to journalism and then entered politics,” she says.

The desire to not be linked with Congress party is apparent as she immediately interrupts when Deccan Herald mentioned that her father had quit Congress ‘recently’.“Not recently, long ago,” she says.

“Not in 2011, in 2007 itself,” she says, correcting this reporter who mentioned the year based on the information on AAP’s webpage about the legislator.

One of six children of her parents, she always got the best they could provide, she says.

“My parents educated me the most. I got the most of everything they could afford. I know they have struggled, but not once I saw creases on their foreheads,” she says proudly.

Though taking a plunge in politics at the cost of a career in media could appear risky to many, she says her role model Kejriwal inspired her.

“If he could let go off his job, so could I,” says Rakhi who first met her mentor while covering Anna Hazare-led Janlokpal Movement as a reporter.

“I never wanted to enter politics. But it is the only solution because the system is chained to politics,” she says, adding that politics is only a ‘tag’.

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