In the high-profile reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, Madhya Pradesh was represented not just by BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, but also by another MP, Virendra Kumar Khatik, who took oath at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Wednesday.
Khatik, a prominent Scheduled Caste face of the BJP, was inducted first into the Modi government in 2017. Born on February 27, 1954, Khatik had pursued his education from Sagar. He had joined the ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, in 1977 and later, was part of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1996 and represented Sagar-Tikamgarh in the Parliament for seven terms.
A humble politician, Khatik is known for his old scooter, which he rode for years to roam around in Tikamgarh. He still travels mostly by trains and moves around in Sagar-Tikamgarh without any security. Few would know that before making it big in politics, Khatik had a shop that fixed punctured tyres for around ten years.
In a past interview, Khatik had recounted how he had joined his father at his tyre shop as a Class V student and how he mastered the art of fixing punctured tyres after rounds of rebuke by his father. He helped his father at the shop until he joined Dr Hari Singh Gaur university, Sagar, for graduation.
Known for his humility, Khatik often sits with local residents holding a chaupal and is also called ‘chaupal wale Sansad’ in Tikamgarh. Even after he was appointed a Union minister in 2017, Khatik would take an auto-rickshaw to reach home while returning from New Delhi. During his poll campaigns also, Khatik would often stop at cycle shops for a quick chat and even offered help to cycle mechanics.
Celebrations erupted in Tikamgarh as soon as Khatik was sworn in as the Union minister.
Khatik had been associated with the RSS since childhood and served various affiliated organisations in later part of his life. He was part of Jayaprakash Narayan’s revolution movement in 1975 and also spent 16 months behind bars under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
With neighbouring UP due for assembly polls next year, it’s believed that Khatik’s elevation as Union minister will benefit the BJP in adjoining areas of UP, especially in Bundelkhand’s SC dominated seats.