Renuka Chowdhury is an Indian politician and a member of the Indian National Congress, she represents the political party in the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh. She has also served as the Union minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Women and Child Development and Tourism in the Government of India.
Born to Air Commodore Suryanarayana Rao and Vasundhara on 13 August 1954 in Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). Renuka is the eldest of three daughters. She studied at the Welham Girls' School, Dehradun and received her B.A. in Industrial Psychology from Bangalore University. Renuka was married to Sreedhar Chowdhury in 1973.
Chowdhury entered politics in 1984 as a member of Telugu Desam Party. She was a member of the Rajya Sabha for two consecutive terms and Chief Whip of Telugu Desam Parliamentary party from 1986 to 1998. She was also the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare from 1997 to 1998 in the cabinet of H. D. Deve Gowda. She left Telugu Desam Party to join Congress party in 1998. In 1999 and 2004, she was elected to the 13th and 14thLok Sabha respectively representing Khammam. Other positions include memberships on the Committee on Finance (1999–2000) and Committee on the Empowerment of Women (2000–2001). In May 2004 she became the Minister of State for Tourism in the UPA I government. She was the Union minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Women and Child Development in the UPA I government from January 2006 to May 2009. In the May 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Renuka Chowdary was defeated by Nama Nageswara Rao of TDP from Khammam by 1,24,448 votes.
The Mumbai newspaper, Mid Day, reported in 2009 that, in response to "Sri Ram Sena's Valentine's Day threat" Chowdary said that youth should "swarm" pubs and make a point to the "moral police brigade". After the 2009 Mangalore pub attack by the Sri Ram Sena Chouwdary commented that Mangalore had been "talibanized". This resulted in a case being filed against her by the town's mayor, accusing her of glorifying isolated incidents and making generalized comments about the city. The "Pub Bharo" campaign was actually being headed by her younger daughter Tejaswini.
Chowdary became a spokesperson for the Congress and was re-elected to Rajya Sabha in 2012.
- Member, Committee on Finance (1999-2000)
- Member, Committee on the Empowerment of Women (2000-2001)
- Member, Committee on Government Assurances (May 2012 – Sept. 2014)
- Member, Committee on Finance (May 2012 – May 2014)
- Member, Business Advisory Committee (May 2013 – Sept. 2014)
- Member, Committee on Agriculture (Sept. 2014–Present)
- Member, House Committee (Sept. 2014–Present)
- Member, General Purposes Committee (April 2016 – Present)
- Chairperson, Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests (April 2016 – Present)
Chowdhury said in 2011 that pant-suits are ridiculous, that men look good in dhotis and that, being a Health Minister, she could vouch that dhotis increase fertility.
In 2015, Chowdhury was booked by Hyderabad police under the ST/SC Atrocities Act for allegedly taking bribe of over Rs 1.10 crore from an aspirant by promising him an Assembly Election ticket.
In early 2000, a close aide of the tax evader Hasan Ali Khan said that he gave Khan a diamond worth 1.2 crore Rupees, which was to be gifted to Chowdhury.
Chowdhury was instrumental in getting the Domestic Violence Act passed into law during her tenure as Minister of Women and Child Development without any debate or discussion on its relevance or merits. Her elder daughter was going through a divorce while she was the Minister of the concerned department and had filed a dowry case against her daughter's in-laws.
On being asked by Karan Thapar in an interview if she thought that men should first suffer before she considers amendments to check misuse of the law Chowdhury replied, "It is not such a bad idea, except that I have such pity for men." At one instance she even said "It is men's turn to suffer". In another instance, she publicly urged women to trust condoms and not their husbands.
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