I Have A Loud Voice And I Use It: Amee Yajnik

| Updated: November 23, 2022 8:02 pm

In the posh enclave of ADC Bank Society, there’s one bungalow that’s buzzing with activity, and I naturally assume it’s the office-cum-residence of Amee Yajnik, Rajya Sabha MP and now the Congress candidate for the Ghatlodia constituency.

As it turns out, the bungalow with all the cars parked outside belongs to a neighbour, who seems to be hosting a child’s birthday party. Dr Yajnik’s house is quiet, with only two staff members in attendance. Sitting in her book-lined office on the ground floor, she says: “It was more crowded here when I was a lawyer. People in distress would queue up, seeking my help in legal matters.”

That sounds wistful, but it’s not meant to be. Yajnik, 63, has moved on and is not nostalgic about the good old days of her youth in Ahmedabad. In Delhi, she’s been very effective in her role as a member of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, speaking out on issues pertaining to women, senior citizens, street children and the judiciary. “I have a loud voice and I use it,” she says. “But all our shouting hasn’t stopped the government from bulldozing bills through parliament, with little deliberation.”

Why is she standing for an MLA seat? “Because the Congress party leadership thought I was capable and mandated it,” she says.

This is the first time she is facing the larger electorate and many say Yajnik is a “protocol candidate”, chosen for her standing as someone worthy of facing off against Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel. Ghatlodia has always been a BJP stronghold and very few would bet on Yajnik winning. But when I ask if she would become chief minister if Congress wins, Yajnik doesn’t crack a smile. “It is too early to say if I will be chief minister,” she says. “But people in Ghatlodiya know I am a Rajya Sabha MP and that counts.”

Returning from the US in 1984 with a Doctoral degree from Stanford, Yajnik had a great run as a criminal defence lawyer in the Gujarat High Court, till she switched to being a public prosecutor and then senior government counsel.

Later, she emerged as an activist with a series of Public Interest Litigation (PILs).  She filed a PIL against the Civil Hospital on the grounds that it had inadequate hostels for students, lacked the latest equipment and had no system of disposal of bio-medical waste. All this led her to join the Indian National Congress in 2007, and based on the rapport she established with Sonia Gandhi, the party nominated her to the Rajya Sabha in 2018.

Today, Yajnik divides her time equally between Delhi and Ahmedabad. In Delhi, she lives in a house assigned to her as an MP, opposite Nirman Bhavan. In Ahmedabad, she has lived in the bungalow in ADC Bank Society for 30 years. The ground floor serves as her office and the upper storey is home, where she lives with her husband (a businessman) and son (an architect from CEPT).

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