Will Nirmala Sitharaman redeem JNU of its Anti-National tag?
In a move that is being hailed by the entire country as a massive step towards empowering women, Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed as the Minister of Defence in the much awaited cabinet reshuffle which happened on Sunday.
Sitharaman, who was heading the Commerce Ministry from 2014, is the second woman to head the Defence Ministry after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held the portfolio twice.
At the start of her political career, Nirmala was appointed as an apolitical member of the National Commission for Women when the first National Democratic Alliance was formed under Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
However, after Congress came in power, she was removed from the Commission, only to be inducted as the Party spokesperson in 2006, as the second woman to become the National Spokesperson of the Party after Sushma Swaraj - Minister of External Affairs at present.
Sitharaman rose up the BJP ranks with an impressive pace, and was given a ministerial position in the party in spite of not being a Member of Parliament.
After being inducted into one of the top most cabinet ministries, Sitharaman said that the promotion was only possible for the "cosmic grace,"
In a press brief after the oath-taking ceremony, she said, "Somebody who has come from a small town, grown into the party with all the support of the leadership, and if given such responsibility, it just makes you feel sometimes that cosmic grace is there. Otherwise it is impossible,"
After graduating with a Bachelors degree from Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College in Tiruchirappalli, she completed her Masters in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1980, and M.Phill in International Studies from the same University.
JNU connection - With the controversy surrounding the noted University for being left-leaning, Sitharaman's induction into the cabinet ministry as the Minister of Defence garnered various comments, especially after Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar requested the Government to install a battle tank inside the University campus to instil love for army among students.
The University which been tagged as anti-national by many for its protests against the death sentence of Afzal Guru - convict in the 2001 Parliament attack, and also for the alleged Anti-India slogans raised inside the campus during the protest.
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) President Kanhaiya Kumar, along with student activists Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid were also booked under charges of sedition which triggered massive outrage from different parts of the country.
After the controversy Sitharaman in an interview to Indian Express expressed her resentment and said that she did not belong to 'this JNU'.
"On February 9, along with separatists, slogans were raised about 'Bharat Tere Tukade Hazar Honge (India, you will become a thousand pieces)'... to hold a meeting to remember the man (Afzal Guru) who was given all available opportunity under the judicial process and then say 'Tere Kaatil Abhi Zinda Hai (Your killers are still alive)'. Are you saying that the entire judiciary was wrong? Are you celebrating a person who has been punished after due process? I am sorry, this is not the JNU that I belong to" she said.
With the hype created around the University for its particular slant towards the left, when it comes to student politics, time will only reveal if the appointment of alumna as the Defence Minister will help the university redeem its anti-India tag.
Sitharaman earlier has worked with PwC, London and BBC World Service before starting her political career. She will be assuming office as the Defence Minister from Wednesday.