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Cabinet Reshuffle | Meet The New Faces In Modi's Council Of Ministers

Tuesday's expansion took the total strength of the Council of Ministers to 78, four below the Constitutional bar of 82

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On Tuesday (05 July), Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted new faces into the Union Council of Ministers keeping an eye on the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar was elevated to Cabinet rank.

After the dropping of five ministers, Tuesday's expansion took the total strength of the Council of Ministers to 78, four below the Constitutional bar of 82.

BW Businessworld takes a close look at newbies in the council of ministers.

Vijay Goel

Vijay Goel's inclusion in the Union Council of Ministers marks a comeback of sorts for the leader after BJP virtually removed him from Delhi, where he once hoped to be the chief ministerial face, and sent him to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.

The three-time Lok Sabha MP, who was a minister in the PMO in the first NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, remained a prominent party leader in the national capital before being sidelined in the last two Assembly polls.

A skillful and media savvy politician, Goel may be used, a section in the party believes, to counter AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose consistent attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi often force the top BJP brass into damage control mode with the state leadership being seen as largely ineffectual.

As a minister of state, he had also earlier held the charges of youth affairs and sports and parliamentary affairs.

The 62-year-old leader entered the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 2014.

His Rajya Sabha biodata says that he also led a country- wide campaign for banning lottery and a movement for prohibition of smoking in public places.

With Modi often exhorting his ministers to do the extra bit to spread the word about his government's work among the masses, Goel's knack of publicity over public issues is likely to come in handy.

S S Ahluwalia

From being a minister in the P V Narasimha Rao Cabinet to a 'research scholar' for BJP on various key legislations, Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia has links cutting across party lines and is known to speak his mind.

The Patna-based politician is known for taking stand which at times is contrary to the party's position.

As a minister in the Rao government, he had openly attacked the then Congress chief Sitaram Kesri, also from Bihar, for the way he handled the party affairs.

During a discussion in the Lok Sabha on a bill to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, he spoke against the measure moved by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The BJP did not nominate him to the key Public Accounts Committee of Parliament due to his poor attendance in panel meets.

As chairman of Joint Parliamentary Committee on the contentious land bill, the Asansol-born politician has ensured that the political divide in the panel does not disrupt the proceedings.

After joining BJP, he has often proved to be an asset for the party. When BJP was in opposition, Ahluwalia, who turned 65 yesterday, played a key role as a member of the JPC on 2G scam. Going through heaps of papers, making notes and finding ammunition to target the rival have been his forte.

Even when he was no more an MP, he was tasked to go through the recommendations of the various standing committees and suggest the party leadership what necessary amendment should be brought when key bills come up for discussion in Parliament.

Ahluwalia, who prefers wearing bright-coloured turbans, is fluent in Bengali, Bhojpuri, Hindi, English and of course Punjabi.

A member of the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling, Ahluwalia was previously a Member of Parliament representing Bihar and Jharkhand in the Rajya Sabha in 1986-1992, 1992-1998, 2000 2006, and 2006-2012.

He was also the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha till 2012 when he lost his seat from Jharkhand.

M J Akbar

M J Akbar's debut as a minister caps a remarkable political turnaround for the journalist and author who made a dashing foray into politics as a Congress MP in 1989, thanks to his proximity to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, before a long spell in wilderness.

65-year-old Akbar, who was recently elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, is seen as an articulate and modern Muslim voice in BJP who can also be trusted to defend it at times on the strident Hindutva pitch with his eloquent evocation of Modi's developmental agenda.

A party spokesperson, he has often spoken on the government's foreign policies.

An eminent editor and author of several well-received books, including a biography of Jawaharlal Nehru, he debuted in politics in 80s as he came close to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and wielded considerable influence.

He contested Lok Sabha election in 1989 from Kishanganj in Bihar and won but Congress lost badly.

He drifted apart from the party after Gandhi's death in 1991 and he soon returned to full time journalism.

Though he was critical of Modi, the then Gujarat Chief Minister, following 2002 riots, he gradually came closer to the saffron party as he assailed the Gandhi family over its leadership of Congress.

BJP expects that Akbar will provide it what the party has often lacked -- an eloquent English-speaking Muslim voice.

Anupriya Patel

Anupriya Patel, a first time MP, is an eloquent pro-Modi voice within and outside the Lok Sabha whose OBC roots have positioned her as an important BJP ally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

The 35-year-old Lok Sabha member from Mirzapur in UP won on the ticket of Apna Dal, a party founded by her father and Kurmi leader Sonelal Patel which later split, with the major faction siding with her mother, who expelled her from the party.

The support of BJP, Patel's associates say, can help her claim the legacy of her father who built Apna Dal's base among OBCs, primarily his fellow castemen Kurmis.

Her inclusion in the Union Council of Ministers is apparently aimed at consolidating backward votes in poll bound UP, especially eastern parts of the state where another tall Kurmi leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been trying to make a foray ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls.

A Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, pass out, she was elected an MLA in 2012 and then entered the Lok Sabha two years later. Anupriya also has Master's degrees in Psychology and Business Administration.

BJP believes that a ministerial berth will give her the stature and gravitas required to work on Kurmi voters, who play an important role in deciding the fate of candidates in some parts of the Hindi heartland state.

Her speeches in the Lower House on various issues have often drawn lavish praise from the treasury benches.

Apna Dal has two members in the Lok Sabha, the other being Haribansh Singh, who owes his allegiance to the faction under control of Anupriya's moter Krishna.

Incidentally, Krishna Patel had warned BJP of breaking ties in case Anupriya was included in the council of ministers. Sonelal Patel's legacy is being claimed by her MP daughter and wife after his death in a road accident.

Anupriya was earlier an MLA from Rohaniya constituency in Varanasi.

BJP's plans to project Anupriya as a prominent backward face had become clear with its national President Amit Shah attending the 67th birth anniversary of Sonelal Patel which was observed recently as 'jan swabhiman rally" in Varanasi.

Arjun Ram Meghwal

A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Meghwal, the chief whip of BJP in Lok Sabha, is known for his penchant for pedalling to Parliament.

Meghwal was born into family of weavers in Kishmidesar village of Bikaner district. He began his career as a telephone operator while pursuing his LLB and got into the Rajasthan Civil Services after two failed attempts.

He was later promoted to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

A two-time MP, the 61-year-old was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 from Bikaner constituency which was earlier represented by Bollywood star Dharmendra.

Known for his active participation in Lok Sabha debates on a variety of issues, Meghwal had recently attacked the judiciary for its "extra constitutional" activism. The Dalit leader had demanded that "running commentary" by judges should end.

Easily identified by his green and saffron turban, Meghwal has of late started using a bicycle to commute to Parliament during sessions. This, he says, saves fuel, protects environment and keeps him fit. He often sings bhajans in the morning which he says keep him mentally alert.

As an MP, he has been a member of various parliamentary Committees including on defence, science and technology, environment and forest, personnel, public grievances and law and justice.

Meghwal has participated in many programmes for development of Rajasthani language and its inclusion in 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

P P Chaudhary

From ploughing the fields to being an advocate and a lawmaker, P P Chaudhary, who cut his teeth in the RSS, has been catapulted to the centrestage of politics with his induction in the Union Council of Ministers.

Born in a poor farmer family, 62-year-old Chaudhary joined the RSS when he was eight years old as a 'Bal Swayamsevak' in 1961. Hailing from Bhavi in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, Chaudhary worked hard to study law and went on to become a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.

He was given a ticket by the BJP from Pali in Rajasthan and won the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Specialising in constitutional matters, he claims to have argued nearly 11,000 cases in his long professional career of almost four decades. He was also standing counsel of the Central Government in 1990.

He has also handled cases relating to farmers and those relating to land acquisition, as well as public interest litigations. He also fought cases relating to para-teachers in Rajasthan up to the Supreme Court and the Vasundhara Raje government gave them jobs after coming to power.

He was part of the Joint Committee of Parliament that looked into the contentious Land Acquisition bill brought in by NDA and later abandoned it.

He has been active as a social worker and has worked to uplift the educational status of children, especially girls, in rural areas.

Chaudhary also worked actively for the cause of farmers in Rajasthan and took initiatives like irrigation projects organic farming.

He has been elected for three years as Member of the International Executive Committee, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, London, UK, where he effectively put forward the Indian view point on Jammu and Kashmir.

He also claimed to have provided insurance cover for 1.31 lakh women of Pali Lok Sabha constituency from his own salary as a parliamentarian.

Ajay Tamta

From an obscure Panchayat functionary to a Union Minister, it has been a spectacular political journey for Ajay Tamta.

Tamta, who would turn 44 on July 16, cut his teeth in politics as a member of district panchayat in his home state Uttarakhand and rose to become its vice president.

The induction of the dalit leader from Almora comes at a time when BJP is promoting leaders of the dalit and backward communities in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where assembly polls are due early next year.

A first-term member of the Lok Sabha, Tamta is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) as also of the Consultative Committee in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. He was earlier a member of the Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Earlier he was a minister in his home state between 2007 and 2009.

He had contested state assembly polls in 2002 as an independent but lost. Tamta tried his luck at the hustings again in 2007 and won on BJP ticket.

Mahendra Nath Pandey

He is one of the BJP's Brahmin faces in Uttar Pradesh, where it is going the whole hog to win after being out of power for a decade-and-a-half.

Pandey, a first-time Lok Sabha member, is an MP from Chandauli bordering Bihar.

Pandey's induction in the Union government is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the significantly large Brahmin vote bank in the state. The Brahmins, who were traditionally Congress supporters, had been siding with BJP in the post-Mandal era. However, a large chunk of them later also voted for Mayawati's BSP.

The 58-year-old leader is a two-time MLA and was elected to the UP Legislative Assembly in 1991 and 1996. He was the secretary of the BJP legislature party.

In 1997, Pandey became Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development and was the MoS Planning (Independent charge) between 1998 and 2000. He was also the MoS Panchayati Raj in UP between 2000 and 2002.

He has a Masters in Journalism and PhD (Hindi) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Pandey is currently a member of the Business Advisory Committee and the Committee of Parliament on Official Language.

In the past, he was a member of the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Consultative Committee, Ministry of Steel and Mines.

Rajen Gohain

The four-time BJP MP from Assam is a known champion for the cause of small tea growers in the Northeastern state.

Gohain, 65, who was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1999 from Nagaon, is a law graduate and was actively involved in the six-year-long Assam agitation against illegal immigrants in early 1980s.

He belongs to the Ahom community like former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his induction into the Modi Ministry could be an attempt by the BJP to penetrate into this community, traditionally known as Congress supporters.

Despite Nagaon being a minority dominated constituency, Gohain was elected to the Lower House for four consecutive term.

"I will try my level best to serve the people of Assam. I request the people of Assam to be with me in this journey," Gohain said.

He has been a leading figure in Assam to fight for the cause of small tea garden owners, who often allege discrimination by big tea companies.

A state-level hockey player in his school days, Gohain was also a long-distance runner.

He is Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes.

Krishna Raj

She is a first time BJP MP and one of the party's Dalit faces from Uttar Pradesh.

The 49-year-old had been a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1996 and 2007 from Mohamadi.

She was elected in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur seat.

A post-graduate, she is active in the Lok Sabha and has participated in 50 debates on a variety of issues, including on water preservation, safety of women and Supreme Court's decision on ban of diesel taxis in Delhi.

She belongs to the Rohilkhand region of the state and her inclusion in the expanded NDA ministry will give more teeth to the saffron party among Scheduled Caste Pasi electorate.

Raj has been an active member of the Committee on Petitions, Standing Committee on Energy, Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation.

She was also a member of Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, besides being a member of the Committee on Public Undertakings.

Subhash Bhamre

An oncologist and a first-time MP, Subhash Bhamre's induction into the Union Ministry is being seen as the Modi government's attempt to compensate Maharashtra for the exit of Raosaheb Danve, who resigned after being appointed the president of BJP's state unit.

It is also an effort to humour BJP supporters in Jalgaon-Dhule belt, who are apparently unahppy over the exit of party heavyweight Eknath Khadse from the Devendra Fadnavis Ministry in the wake of accusations of wrongdoing in purchase of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation land.

Bhamre, born on September 11, 1953, defeated Amrish Patel of Congress to enter the Lok Sabha in 2014 elections from the Dhule constituency, bordering Gujarat. His constituency adjoins Jalgoan, the home turf of Khadse.

He has been offering free treatment to cancer patients.

He has conducted free multiple medical camps and surgeries. He organised public education speeches for cancer awareness and its early detection and prevention.

Bhamre is also known for visiting houses of financially weak cancer patients, who couldn't afford to visit hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

The 63-year-old BJP MP is a Member of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare and also a Member of the Consultative Committee, Ministry of Railways. He is also member of the Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes.

Bhamre was among the 'non-political' personalities fielded by BJP in 2014 elections and registered a convincing victory over Patel as the Modi wave swept the constituency.

During his college days, Bhamre was the vice captain of Mumbai University's chess and basket ball teams.

Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala

A grassroots political worker, he is a known Modi-loyalist and belongs to Kadva Patidar community in Gujarat.

A two-term Rajya Sabha MP, the Patel leader is a science graduate whe began his career as a school teacher in Gujarat and became principal of two schools and the chief officer of a civic body before joining politics.

His interest in politics began when he was chief officer of the Amreli civic body from November 1983 to March 1987.

He quit his job in Amreli Municipality and joined BJP.

Rising steadily through the ranks, Rupala became BJP state secretary and went on to serve as a minister when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister.

A pro-Hindutva leader, 61-year-old Rupala was among those who offered kar seva in 1989 at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. He also participated in BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi's Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar's Lal Chowk in 1991-92.

Rupala is a former president of BJP's Gujarat unit and ex-chairman of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).

He was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 2008 and then again in June 2016 and is known for his high-decibel interventions in the Upper House.

He was a staunch opponent of former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel which made him drift naturally towards the other faction of Gujarat BJP led by Narendra Modi, when Keshubhai was the CM between 1998 and 2001.

His induction in Union Council of Ministers comes at a time when the state BJP is facing agitation by the Patel community for reservation.

A good orator, Rupala became a minister when BJP came to power in the state in 1995.

He was elected as MLA thrice and held various positions in the state government. However, when Keshubhai Patel became the chief minister in 1998, he was not made a minister in Gujarat government.

When Modi took over from Keshubhai in 2001, Rupala was reinstated as minister in his council. Later, he was given responsibility as the chief of Gujarat BJP in 2006.

Rupala was also elected to Rajya Sabha from 2008 to 2014. He again got elected to the Upper House of Parliament during the elections held recently.

He also held the position of national vice-president of the party in 2010 and was in-charge of states like Andhra Pradesh and Goa in the recent past.

Ramdas Athawale

Known for his comic sense, Ramdas Athawale is a prominent dalit leader from Maharashtra whose induction into the Modi government is part of BJP's endeavour to reach out to the politically crucial segment ahead of elections to five states including Uttar Pradesh.

Athawale, who heads the Republican Party of India (Athawale), an NDA ally, has been a trade unionist and is known more for his blunt remarks and popular laughter-evoking speeches in Parliament and outside.

He has been part of NDA since 2011 after he quit the NCP-Congress alliance. He currently represents Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha and has been a three-time Lok Sabha member.

The RPI(A) leader had last represented Mumbai North Central constituency in the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009, having been first elected to the lower house in 1998.

Athawale had been openly seeking a berth in the Union goverment for quite some time. His induction came at a time when BJP has laid claim to the legacy of dalit icon B R Ambedkar.

Calling himself "the fearless panther of India", the 56-year-old leader claims to have led the 'Dalit Panther Movement', a social movement for equality, justice and human rights world-wide.

Athawale courted controversy when he demanded firearms for dalits for self-defence in the backdrop of suicide by a dalit research scholar in Hyderabad University.

An undergraduate from Agalgaon in Sangli district of Maharashtra, Athawale was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 1990 and became a Cabinet Minister.

Athawale played a significant role in Marathwada Vidyapeeth Namantar, a dalit movement for renaming the Marathwada University after Ambedkar. He was also at the forefront of the movement for grant of Indu Mill land in Mumbai for building a memorial to Ambedkar.

Athawale also edited 'Bhumika', a weekly magazine in Mumbai, and has been a publisher for Parivartan Publications.

His real life theatrics saw him land the title role in Marathi film 'Anya Yacha Pratikar' and made a cameo appearance in another movie 'Joshi ki Kamble'. He also played a role in Marathi drama 'Ekach Pyala' and a few others.

Anil Madhav Dave

He is a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh.

Dave previously served as a member on the committee on water resources member, on the consultative committee for the ministry of information and broadcasting.

He was also on the parliamentary forum on global warming and climate change and was on the select committee to the Wakf (amendment) bill, 2010.

Ramesh Jigajinagi

He represents the Bijapur constituency of Karnataka.

He has served as a member on parliamentary consultative committee, ministry of finance, parliamentary committee on absence of members from the sittings of the house, the parliamentary committee on commerce.

He has additionally served on the parliamentary committee on home affairs and its sub-committee on personnel policy of central paramilitary forces.

Faggan Singh Kulaste

Kulaste is a Lok Sabha MP from the Mandla constituency of Madhya Pradesh.

He was a minister of state in the Vajpayee government in 1999.

He represented Mandla Lok Sabha seat from 1996 to 2009 but lost the seat later.

He regained the seat in the 2014 general elections.

Jasvantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor

Bhabhor is a member of Parliament from the Dahod constituency in Gujarat.

He is a resident of Bariya Faliyu at Dasa Post Office in Limkheda Taluka of Dahod district.

He is farmer and social worker by profession.

Mansukh Mandaviya

The 44-year-old is apparently being groomed by the BJP as the "next generation leader" from the Patel community in Gujarat.

He was a student leader of ABVP and was elected as an MLA in the Gujarat Assembly in 2002.

In 2012, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, where he had been member of Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, National Welfare Board for Seafarers and also Member of a Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers.

From May 2015 onwards, he was Member, Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013.

He has also served as a spokesperson of Gujarat BJP and is a party state executive member.

His induction comes at a time when BJP is facing Patel quota stir in Gujarat.

C R Chaudhary

The 68-year-old Nagaur MP is a Jat leader from Rajasthan.

Born in Dhandhlas village in Nagaur, he was an officer of Rajasthan Administrative Service before joining politics.

Chaudhary became member and later Chairman of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission.

He is also an honrary Chairman of Veer Teja Mahila Shiksahn and Shodh Sansthan Marwar-Mundwa in Nagaur.