Delhi’s ‘8th MP’, Bengal veteran and Assam face
Six lawyers from five states make up nearly a third of the 19 Union ministers of state sworn in Tuesday. Among them, P P Chaudhary has been a Supreme Court advocate, while the others are Vijay Goel, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Arjun Ram Meghwal, S S Ahluwalia and Rajen Gohain.
WATCH VIDEO: Keystrokes – Smriti Irani Gets Textiles
Vijay Goel, 62
Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge); MoS, Water Resources & Ganga
It is his second stint as Union minister, having served as MoS in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s PMO in 2001. The BJP sent him to the Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan in April 2014 but his politics has always been about Delhi. Son of former Delhi Speaker Charti Lal Goel, Vijay went to Shriram College of Commerce in Delhi and became Delhi University Students Union president in 1977-78. Later a law graduate, he went on to become Delhi BJP chief — a period during which he faced rebellion within — and win three consecutive Lok Sabha polls from two Delhi seats, Sadar and Chandni Chowk. Such is his connect to his home that Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah have hailed him as Delhi’s eighth MP. He has continued to take a lead role in Delhi-centric politics even after being elected to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. Of late, he has defied the AAP government’s odd-even traffic scheme and been served a challan in the process, besides driving a a tractor to CM Arvind Kejriwal’s home to demand his resignation over a tanker scam.
S S Ahluwalia, 65
MoS, Agriculture, Parliamentary Affairs
The Darjeeling MP was previously Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar and Jharkhand. He has been Union minister for urban development and parliamentary affairs in the past and is currently a member of the BJP’s national executive committee. Born in Asansol of West Bengal, Ahluwalia studied at Calcutta University and has a degree in law. Ahluwalia has played a key role in bringing about an alliance with Bimal Gurung’s GJM. Last year, Ahluwalia was caught in a controversy after he delivered a speech endorsing the GJM’s demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. The state BJP leadership had to distance itself from this.
P P Chaudhary, 62
MoS, Law, IT
A senior Supreme Court advocate for over four decades, he belongs to the Seervi community who thrive mainly in his constituency of Pali, Jaipur, and neighbouring Jodhpur, where he was born. Ahead of Vasundhara Raje’s Suraj Sankalp Yatra in 2013, Chaudhary mobilised the community in these constituencies. Chaudhary has been associated with the RSS since the age of eight. He is a lifetime member of Patanjali Yogpeeth and is considered close to Swami Ramdev and Arun Jaitley. He claims to have provided insurance cover for 1.31 lakh women of Pali from his income.
Faggan Singh Kulaste, 57
MoS, Law, IT
The five-term MP from Mandla is an MA, BEd and LLB. He served as MoS in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government too. In 2008, he waved currency notes in the Lok Sabha during the trust vote against UPA over the cash-for-vote scandal. Later embroiled in the same scandal, he survived to enter the Rajya Sabha in 2012 and was discharged the following year. Kulaste entered politics while in college and the assembly in 1990. He has held positions in several parliamentary committees, including on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which gave a report on caste discrimination in JNU.
Rajen Gohain, 66
The four-time MP from Nowgong is one of the founders of the BJP in Assam, and had headed the state BJP in 1999-2003, during which the national leadership tied up with the AGP for the first time. He was not happy with that alliance and predicted it would lose — which it did. A former businessman and lawyer who owns a small tea estate, Gohain in 2008 was dragged to court by then Congress minister Rakibul Hussain for allegedly accusing the latter of jihadi links. A father of five, Gohain last week criticised the BJP-led government for not choosing Raha, part of Nowgong, for setting up an AIIMS.
Arjun Ram Meghwal, 63
MoS, Finance, Corporate Affairs
He bicycled to Rashtrapati Bhawan to take oath and cycled back, the way he has been travelling to Parliament sessions to make a green statement. Born in a Dalit family of weavers in a village of Bikaner, from where he is now MP, Meghwal was a 12-year-old schoolboy when he got married. He did a BA, an LLB and an MA from Bikaner, then an MBA from Philippines University, before entering the IAS. Elected MP in 2009, he won the Best Parliamentarian award in 2013 before being re-elected in 2014. As BJP chief whip in the Lok Sabha, he brought up Robert Vadra’s land deals in Bikaner.
From bureaucracy and journalism to ministerial roles
BJP minister M J Akbar is a veteran journalist who has also been a Congress Lok Sabha MP while C R Chaudhury is a former bureaucrat
M J Akbar, 65
MoS, External Affairs
The ministerial post caps a journey from journalist to Congress Lok Sabha MP in 1989-91 to the latest elevation. Formerly editor of Sunday and TheTelegraph, he joined the Congress but drifted away after Rajiv Gandhi’s death in 1991 and returned to full-time journalism, launching The Asian Age. He joined the BJP in 2014 and was appointed national spokesperson. An advocate of Narendra Modi’s development agenda, he is seen as having become close to the PM. Recently elected to the Rajya Sabha from MP, he has over the years authored several books including Riot After Riot and Blood Brothers.
Chhotu Ram Chaudhary, 68
MoS, Consumer Affairs, Food & Distribution
The former bureaucrat is a first-time MP, elected from the Jat stronghold of Nagaur in Rajasthan. Between 2008 and 2010, he was chairman of Rajasthan Public Services Commission. His induction is being seen as a balancing act after Sanwar Lal Jat was dropped from the cabinet owing to poor health. Chaudhary is honorary chairman of Veer Teja Mahila Shikshan Evam Shodh Sansthan that helps provide free or “affordable” education for girls. He trained in rural development in the United Kingdom.
The green activists
An author and a statement on a bicycle
Anil M Dave campaigns against global warming, Mansukh Mandaviya makes a statement.
Anil Madhav Dave, 60
MoS, Environment, Forest & Climate Change (Independent Charge)
The Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, with RSS roots, is an author in both Hindi and English. His books include one on Shivaji, its preface written by Narendra Modi, then Gujarat CM. He is a bachelor with an M Com from Gujarati College, Indore. His debating skills are often on show in the Rajya Sabha. He runs an NGO for Narmada conservation, and has held positions in parliamentary forums on issues such as global warming and climate change. In MP, then CM Uma Bharti had made his adviser to the CM.
Mansukh Mandaviya, 44
MoS, Transport & Highways, Shipping, Chemicals & Fertilisers
Like Arjun Ram Meghwal, he cycles to Parliament sessions and travelled the same way to Rashtrapati Bhawan to take oath Tuesday, making a green statement. The Rajya Sabha MP, a Leuva Patidar from Bhavnagar, is considered loyal to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and was part of the team that worked to contain the Patidar quota stir last year. Mandaviya went to Gujarat Agricultural University graduate and is engaged in business and farming apart from politics.
The alliance partners
Emerging UP leader, Maharashtra veteran
The new Union ministers of state include two alliance partners of the BJP; one is a prominent Dalit face of Maharashtra while the other, Anupriya Patel, represents Apna Dal, a key NDA constituent in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Ramdas Athawale, 57
MoS, Social Justice & Empowerment
The RPI founder member and president is a key Dalit face in Maharashtra. Once loyal to the Congress-NCP, he parted ways in 2011 citing a sense of betrayal after he lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Shirdi. In 2014, he joined the BJP-led alliance and the BJP has since rewarded him with a Rajya Sabha berth and now an MoS post. A former Lok Sabha member, he is known for reciting poetry on the floor of the House.
Anupriya Patel, 35
MoS, Health & Family Welfare
The Mirzapur MP, daughter of late Kurmi leader Sone Lal Patel, joined politics when he died and shot to prominence in 2014 on the back of an alliance between her Apna Dal and the BJP. Anupriya and her mother Krishna, incidentally, are involved in a power tussle. She went to Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, made an unsuccessful attempt at the civil services, then did a masters in psychology and an MBA.
Caste engineering in five states
The five Dalit MPs inducted Tuesday come from five different states, two of which (UP and Uttarakhand) are going to polls next year. Among them are Arjun Meghwal of Rajasthan, a lawyer and Ramdas Athawale of Maharashtra, whose party is an alliance partner of the BJP. The other three are from UP, Uttarakhand and Karnataka.
Ramesh Jigajinagi, 64
MoS, Drinking Water & Sanitation
The five-term Lok Sabha MP, elected from Bijapur (Karnataka), replaces G M Siddeshwara. The Dalit leader’s elevation is part of a BJP social inclusion formula: the cabinet has Vokkaliga leader D V Sadananda Gowda and Brahmin H N Ananth Kumar; Lingayat leader B S Yeddyurappa is state BJP president. Jigajinagi, a BA, began as a socialist in undivided Janata Dal, working with Ramakrishna Hegde, before veering right.
Krishna Raj, 49
MoS, Transport & Highways, Shipping
First-time MP from Shahjahanpur is an agriculturist. She has been elevated ahead of the BJP’s face-off with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh. She had been MLA from Mohammadi in 1996 and 2007, both reserved seats. She lost the 2009 election from Shahjahanpur and the 2012 assembly election from Kasta but the party retained faith in her in 2014. She belongs to Faizabad, where she did a postgraduate course in arts.
Ajay Tamta, 43
Elected from Almora, Uttarakhand, which he won at the second attempt. Formerly MLA from Someshwar in 2007 and 2012, Tamta served as minister of state and was later elevated to minister in B C Khanduri’s government. Before that, in 2002, Tamta had contested from Someshwar as a rebel after the party had denied him the ticket; he lost. He runs a transport business in Uttarakhand.
Cancer surgeon first, politician later
Subash Bhamre, 62
A cancer surgeon who made his name with free treatment to the needy in Dhule, which he represents. The Maratha leader started his career in 2000 with the Shiv Sena and later joined the BJP. In north Maharashtra, he is recognised more as a doctor than a politician. His elevation comes after leader from the region Eknath Khadse resigned as Maharashtra minister and Union MoS Raosaheb Danve Patil was made state BJP president, leaving an MoS berth vacant.
Monitor of projects in PM’s Varanasi
Mahendra Nath Pandey, 58
The Chandauli MP, a PhD in Hindi, is considered close to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. His induction is aimed at winning Brahmin votes back from the BSP. He is chairperson of the vigilance and monitoring committee of projects for Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. He was a minister in the Uttar Pradesh governments led by Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh, and has also been the BJP’s Kashi unit president.
Former Gujarat BJP chief’s reward
Parshottam Rupala, 62
MoS, Agriculture, Panchayati Raj
Second-term Rajya Sabha MP belongs to the Kadva Patidar community and is seen as close to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The science graduate and farmer is a former Gujarat BJP president now elevated to national vice president in-charge of Andhra and Goa. He has been a minister in Gujarat in 1995-02. He is being seen as a replacement for Mohan Kundariya, dropped as MoS, Agriculture.
Tribal leader from south Gujarat
Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, 49
MoS, Tribal Affairs
The tribal leader is a first-time MP elected from Dahod. An arts graduate and farmer, he is being seen as a replacement for another tribal leader from south Gujarat, Mansukh Vasava, who was dropped. He took oath in Gujarati.