|Minister of Minority Affairs|
26 May 2014
|Prime Minister||Narendra Modi|
|Preceded by||K. Rahman Khan|
|Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha|
|Member of Rajya Sabha|
13 April 1940 |
Bhopal, Bhopal State
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party (since 2004),
Indian National Congress (1960s to 2004)
|Spouse(s)||Akbarali A. Heptulla (1966–2007) (his death)|
Dr. Najma Akbarali Heptulla (born 13 April 1940) is an Indian politician. She is a former vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a five time member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian parliament, between 1986 and 2012, and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha for sixteen years. She was a member representing Rajasthan from July 2004 to July 2010. She was nominated by the BJP for the Rajya Sabha in 2012 from Madhya Pradesh, and assumed her office on 24 April 2012.
She is a grand-niece of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a prominent Indian freedom fighter. She is also a second cousin to actor Aamir Khan. She contested the 13th vice-presidential election held in August 2007 but lost to Hamid Ansari by 233 votes. She took oath as a cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi headed government on 26 May 2014. She is assisted by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who joined the Council of Ministers as a Minister of State in November 2014.
Early life and background
Najma was born in Bhopal, Bhopal State, in present Madhya Pradesh to Syed Yusuf Ali and Fatima Yusuf Ali. The Family are of Arab descent and they claim to be Saiyyid. She did her schooling from Motilal Vigyan Mahavidyalaya (MVM) Bhopal, and holds both a Masters' of Science Degree in Zoology, and a PhD in Zoology(Cardiac Anatomy) from Vikram University, Ujjain.
She married Akbarali A Heptulla in 1966, and has three daughters. Her husband, Akbarali A Heptulla, a manpower consultant, was instrumental the establishment of the Patriot newspaper in the 1960s. He died on 4 September 2007, in New Delhi at the age of 75.
She steadily climbed up in the Indian National Congress party, heading several divisions of the party's grassroots organisations. She was the General Secretary of Congress during 1986 with the additional responsibility of youth activities of the All India Congress Committee and the NSUI. Since 1980, she has been a member of the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra for four terms at 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998 as Congress candidate. Najma was the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha from January 1985 to January 1986 and from 1988 to July 2004.
Heptulla was nominated to head the Indian Council of Cultural Affairs. She also presided over the women parliamentarians' group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1993 and became founder president of the parliamentarians' forum for human development the same year. She was also elected President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a Geneva-based international organisation at Council's 165th session in Berlin in 1999. She held the post from 16 October 1999 to 27 September 2002. Subsequently, in 2002, at Council's 171st session, she was chosen the Honorary President of the IPU Council. Heptulla was nominated by the United Nations Development Programme as its human development ambassador. Heptulla led a delegation to the UN Commission on Status of Women in 1997.
Heptulla has authored book on AIDS titled "AIDS: Approaches to Prevention". She has also written on human social security, sustainable development, environment, reforms for women and on ties between India and west Asia.
Heptulla joined Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004. Media sources reported that she left the Congress apparently due to a strain in relationship with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Later she alleged that she was personally humiliated by Sonia Gandhi. She declared that she was leaving the party due to the problems with party leadership. In 2007, BJP-led NDA fielded her a canditate in elections for the Vice-President of India, which was won by Hamid Ansari
Heptulla faced charges of having morphed a 1958 photograph to show her along with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in a publication of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). The controversial photograph was published in an ICCR publication titled 'Journey of a legend', on the life of Maulana Azad, a noted scholar and the country's first education minister. He was also the first chairperson of the ICCR and the publication came out when the council was headed by Heptulla. The photograph came with an introduction and showed a young Heptulla with the Maulana. The caption read "Najma Heptulla with Maulana Azad after her graduation". This gave the game away as official inquiries later revealed Heptulla had graduated in May 1958, whereas the Maulana had died on February 22, 1958. The publication was later withdrawn by the ICCR and its revised version is released but without the controversial photograph. Delhi High court had directed the CBI to investigate the case on a public interest litigation filed by ICCR Employees Association president.
Under Nitin Gadkari as BJP President, she became one of the 13 vice-presidents of the BJP in 2010, where later when Rajnath Singh took over, she was made a member of the party's national executive. Heptulla has been serving as the Minister of Minority Affairs in Prime minister Narendra Modi's cabinet since May 2014. She said that minorities needed a level playing field in Indian society, but reservation is not the solution as it kills the spirit of competition.
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Shyam Lal Yadav
|Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
|Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
K. Rahman Khan
K. Rahman Khan
|Minister of Minority Affairs