Chandigarh’s Rajesh Kalia was elected Mayor on January 19 (Saturday) after 16 out of the 27 votes were polled in his favour.
Kalia belongs to the Valmiki community and was once a rag picker. His father retired as a sweeper, and one of his brothers still works as a sweeper.
"I used to work as a rag picker after school. My two brothers, four sisters and I, would collect rags from garbage mounds and sell it to support the family. I am not ashamed of my past. That is the harsh reality of my life," said Kalia, as per an India Today report.
Kalia shifted to Chandigarh in 1977, pitched a shanty and collected garbage with his siblings. He and his family were discriminated against as they were from a lower strata.
Rajesh’s three daughters are proud of his victory, and his father too was ecstatic at his election as Mayor. In Kalia’s praise, he said his son was a ‘hardworking man’.
Kalia is also a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, and the biggest challenge ahead of him is to make Chandigarh India’s cleanest city.
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