Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for walking
with Medha Patkar during the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. Gandhi
met Patkar earlier this week. Medha Patkar, an activist for decades,
spearheaded the Narmada Bachao Andolan which led to a delay in the building of
the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

“A Congress
leader was seen taking out a padyatra with a woman who stalled the Narmada dam
project for three decades,” the Indian PM said.

Who is
Medha Patkar?

Patkar was born Medha Khanolkar on December 1, 1954 in Maharashtra capital
Mumbai. Daughter of Vasant Khanolkar, a freedom fighter and labour union activist,
and Indumati Khanolkar, a gazetted officer in the Post and Telegraphs
department, is presently 67 years old.

Patkar was married for seven years, hence the surname Patkar, and was later

Patkar also
has a brother – Mahesh Khanolkar, an architect.

Patkar did her masters degree from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
in social work. She worked with voluntary organisations in Mumbai slums and in
the tribal districts in north-eastern Gujarat for three years. She subsequently
went on to become a faculty member at TISS.

Soon after,
while being a PhD scholar, Patkar gave up her faculty position to do fieldwork.
Her research focussed on economic development and its impact on traditional

She quit
her PhD midway to spearhead the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a social movement
against the Narmada dam which began construction in 1985. Patkar argued that
the Narmada dam would displace thousands of people from villages around the
area. She has also argued against the development strategy to link rivers in
India as a way to address water shortages.

Patkar forayed into mainstream politics when she joined Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam
Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2014. She contested the North Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency
seat but lost receiving less than 10% of the vote.

Patkar quit
AAP in 2015. Earlier this week, she was seen walking with the Congress’ Bharat
Jodo Yatra.