NEW DELHI—It's fair to say that Delhi minister for women and child development is an atypical Indian man. He starts his day by touching his wife's feet.
This disclosure Sandeep Kumar made in the Delhi Assembly on International Women's Day has catapulted him, a little-known Aam Aadmi Party politician, into contention for India's most popular man among women.
“I touch my parents’ feet because they brought me into this world, raised me and gave me a good education," he told Indian Express in an interview. "But after them, it is my wife who has been with me through thick and thin and I respect her just as much.”
The 34-year-old lawyer, who is the youngest minister in Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet, won the scheduled caste reserved seat from Sultanpur Majri in northwest Delhi. He beat the four-time sitting MLA, Congress' Jai Kishan, in what was the highest margin by percentage (56 percent), in the Delhi state election this February. The young minister's statement has apparently earned him both bouquets and brickbats.
While the statement has endeared the minister to many, he has also been hearing from people who felt his words were a misfit in a male-dominated society.
"I told them that it is this mentality they have to change," he said. "A person who does not respect women has no right to be called a human being.”
A distant relative of his even landed up at their house, alleging that Kumar's statement had "hurt the honour of the family."
His wife Ritu stood firmly by her husband's side. "We told them they had no right to interfere in our lives.”
It's a rather charming story, of a couple who were college sweethearts and overcame opposition from her family due to his poor financial background, and has stuck together through the rough and tumble.
Read his full interview here.