Having become part of Team Modi in the central government as a minister of state (MoS), Vijay Sampla tries to put up a little smile as he recounts his reaching a high in life after a long period of toil and manual labour.
Having been inducted into the Narendra Modi government as MoS for social justice and empowerment, Sampla does not hide his past.
“If I think of the last 30-35 years, I find it quite strange. I have worked in fields, done ‘palledari’ (farm porter) and was in Saudi Arabia for 11 years where I did labour (jobs). I worked as an assistant to a plumber and a mason. I became a plumber, technician and electrician,” he said.
A first-time MP from the Hoshiarpur reserved seat, Sampla was picked up by Modi — who himself once sold tea at a railway station in Gujarat and is now the country’s prime minister — to be the first Bharatiya Janata Party minister from Punjab.
Sampla, 53, is a Dalit leader from Punjab’s Doaba belt (the area between rivers Beas and Sutlej) which is famous for people wanting to emigrate to foreign shores for a better life. In the late 1970s, Sampla was one of those who went to Saudi Arabia for work.
“I had never imagined or wished about this (change in life). I had never thought that things will change like this,” Sampla said with a little smile on his face.
Sampla, who belongs to the Ravidassia community among Dalits, started attending Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) meetings and joined the BJP in 1998. He was chosen to contest for the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat earlier this year and won comfortably.