Once A Ragpicker, This Man Is Now Chandigarh's New Mayor

As Mayor, his priority is to rid Chandigarh of the dumping ground and implement waste segregation at the household level

A garbage collector in the past, Rajesh Kalia is today the Chandigarh Mayor.

Kalia, 46, who has studied till Class XII, used to pick rags at the dumping ground of Dadumajra with his father before he took baby steps into politics in 1984. Kalia joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1984 and later helped the BJP in the 1996 Municipal Corporation (MC) Chandigarh elections. He contested his first MC polls in 2011 from Dadumajra, but lost to the Congress candidate. In 2016, he was elected as the Councillor from Ward 7.

It was Kalia who led the agitation of garbage collectors when the MC decided to take over waste collection from the independent collectors in the city.

Besides a police record, Kalia had courted controversy when he had a tiff with then medical officer of health. He told The Indian Express,

“In the last few days, questions have been raised regarding my criminal background… I would like to clarify that those were simple cases of brawl and one of gambling, for which I was fined Rs 50.”

He also said that his first and foremost priority will be to get the city rid of the dumping ground, besides implementing waste segregation.