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Last Updated : Feb 07, 2020 05:44 PM IST | Source:

Know Your Leader | Delhi Election: Atishi — the driving force behind AAP's education reforms

A graduate of St. Stephen's College and armed with a Master's degree in history, Atishi was the advisor to Delhi's education minister Manish Sisodia

When Bharatiya Janata Party's Gautam Gambhir won from the East Delhi constituency during last year's Lok Sabha polls, many had commented that it was a loss for both the constituency and Parliament, which could have got an eloquent voice in his rival Atishi.

In a campaign dominated by fair amount of mud-slinging that included the distribution of a pamphlet with obscene reference to Atishi's personal life— and BJP leaders reportedly asking where her husband is— Gambhir had won. However, what had surprised many was that Atishi came third, behind even Congress' Arvinder Singh Lovely.

It was surprising because Atishi was considered by observers to be one of the driving forces behind Delhi's reported revamp in education system. In fact, according to a report, when she represented the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in television debates, her opponents would sometimes agree that she had done good work and then begin their arguments.


A graduate of St Stephen's College and armed with a Master's degree in history, Atishi was the advisor to Delhi's education minister— who is also the deputy chief minister— Manish Sisodia.

Also Read | Manish Sisodia — the ‘de-facto CM’ widely regarded for educational reforms

Even as the central government terminated her position reportedly because it was not approved by the Centre, Atishi and the AAP government's efforts in education sector seemed to have shown success.

In 2018, the pass percentage of the students from Delhi's government schools increased by over 2 percent, and was better than that of private schools. New classrooms and parent-teacher meetings for the first time, as also the Happiness Curriculum designed to increase the "happiness equality" levels of students, were some of the elements of AAP's education policy.

Atishi, according to reports, was at the centre of it all, being the most "critical person for AAP in its efforts in the field of education". After she came back to India from Oxford, Atishi taught at a school near Bangalore, and then explored "different education related initiatives across the country"— perhaps influencing her approach towards education in New Delhi.

Also Read | Shaheen Bagh a hotbed of anti-national activities, protesters being lured with biryani: BJP's Tajinder Singh Bagga

AAP and Atishi's claim to have worked in the education sector might help the party during the assembly polls, but personal life has continued to play a part in Atishi's political career. The pamphlet incident was one example, the other being the questions raised on Atishi's surname.

While Atishi used Marlena as her surname— she claims that the name is a combination of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, coined by her parents— it caused a controversy in 2018 after reports suggested that she was told to drop it from her Twitter handle because it sounded Christian.

AAP had denied the reports, but it had led Atishi to clarify that her real surname was Singh, that she belonged to a "Punjabi Hindu family" and that she is a "Chhatriya".

Contesting from Kalkaji constituency for the forthcoming Assembly polls, Atishi has a tough opposition facing her. While Congress has fielded Shivani Chopra, the daughter of the party's Delhi unit chief Subhash Chopra— himself a legislator from Kalkaji— BJP has fielded Dharamveer Singh.

Delhi Election 2020: For the latest news, view and updates, click here

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First Published on Feb 7, 2020 05:43 pm
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