In Chandigarh, Congress candidate Manish Tewari hopes to make janmabhumi his karmabhumi - Hindustan Times
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In Chandigarh, Congress candidate Manish Tewari hopes to make janmabhumi his karmabhumi

May 09, 2024 09:12 AM IST

Having represented Ludhiana (2009) and Anandpur Sahib (2019) in the Lok Sabha, the former Union minister is not new to the campaign but this election is special as Chandigarh is his birthplace from where he began his political career with NSUI four decades ago

Seeking his third election to Parliament, this time from his birthplace, Chandigarh, Manish Tewari, 58, advocates his love for the city where he spent his formative years to build a connect with voters.

Manish Tewari was 19 when his father was assassinated by terrorists in 1984. He says it became his trigger to come into public life. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Manish Tewari was 19 when his father was assassinated by terrorists in 1984. He says it became his trigger to come into public life. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

Having represented Ludhiana (2009) and Anandpur Sahib (2019) in the Lok Sabha, Tewari is not new to the campaign but this election is special for it gives him the opportunity to make his janmabhumi (birthplace) his karmabhumi (platform to work). The former Union minister recently dared his BJP rival Sanjay Tandon, who is contesting his debut election, to an open debate on issues of public concern in Chandigarh. Though he is yet to receive a response, he is pulling out all stops to connect with voters offline and online.

Tewari was born to VN Tewari, an author and professor at Panjab University’s Punjabi department who went on to become a Rajya Sabha member, and Dr Amrit Tewari, a dentist who headed the Oral Health Sciences Centre and was dean, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. His father was shot dead by militants while on a morning walk in Sector 24, Chandigarh, in April 1984, months before Operation Bluestar.

His mother passed away in 2018 following a cardiac arrest. Tewari’s maternal grandfather, Sardar Tirath Singh, was a lawyer and a minister in the Congress government in Punjab.

“My father’s killing has been the low point in my life. I lost him to the depredations of terrorists. One moment he was there and the next he was gone. He died in my arms as I rushed him to hospital. He had been shot nine times in front of my eyes. My mum was lucky, they fired at her too, but fortunately for her, they ran out of bullets. It’s been 40 years, but the scars are fresh,” he says, adding, “It was my trigger to come into public life.”

Tewari started his political career with the National Students Union of India (NSUI) when he was a student at DAV College, Chandigarh.

He went on to become the NSUI national president from 1988-93 and was the Youth Congress chief from 1998-2000. He lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections but made it to Parliament in 2009.

It was during his tenure as NSUI chief that he met the love of his life, Naaznin B Shifa, in 1989. She was a student leader from Mumbai, who eventually joined Air India, while he was practising law in Delhi. Their friendship blossomed into love and they tied the knot in 1996.

Their daughter, Ineka, has been campaigning actively for her father these days.

Having completed his basic education from St John’s High School, Sector 26, Tewari studied at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16, before graduating in economics from Panjab University (PU) and studying law at the University of Delhi.

During his time at PU, he led the sports teams in swimming and water polo. “Swimming was my passion. I represented Chandigarh at the All India School Games and would spend eight hours practising at the PU pool daily,” he says.

Ask him how he was at academics and he replies in jest, “E for effort. The writer in me came out much later.”

Tewari has authored four books, the latest being one on national security challenges posed by two hostile neighbours, Pakistan and China. His books reflect domestic and international political trends. “My fifth book, A Long View from Raisina Hill, on international relations is ready to be published once I get free from the dust and din of the elections,” he adds.

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