Profiles of Union Ministers - The New Indian Express

Profiles of Union Ministers

Published: 26th May 2014 08:03 PM

Last Updated: 26th May 2014 11:16 PM

V K Singh

Controversial former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, who was made the Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Narendra Modi government, has somewhat of chequered past with one episode being a long unsuccessful battle with the UPA government over his age issue.

Singh, 63, lost the legal battle over his age issue with the Defence Ministry in 2012 and joined Anna Hazare's anti-corruption agitation against the UPA Government before joining the BJP just before the elections.

In the Lok Sabha elections, Singh defeated Raj Babbar of Congress from Ghaziabad seat by 5.67 lakh votes, which was second biggest margin in this election after Modi, who trounced his Congress rival Madhusudan Mistry by over 5.70 lakh votes in Vadodara.

A newcomer to politics, Singh has been in the eye of the storm over one issue or the other in recent times.

Soon after he took over as the Army chief, he started an anti-corruption tirade in the Army which saw several Lt Gens including former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash facing court martial for his role in the Sukna land scam.

The majority of his tenure as Army chief was overshadowed by his battle with the Government over his age issue as he claimed it to be May 10, 1951 whereas the Government said it was May 10, 1950.

The issue saw Singh become the first service chief in the country to drag the Government to court and later, the Supreme Court decided in favour of the Government.

In his last days in office, Singh stirred controversy when he stated that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a file related to the procurement of 600 Tatra trucks for the Army.

The issue snowballed into a big controversy and an embarrassed Defence Ministry under AK Antony had to order a CBI probe to investigate the issue.

 Singh's secret military intelligence unit Technical Support Division (TSD) was also charged with being involved in snooping into telephone conversations of senior defence ministry officials at the height of his age controversy.

 Post retirement, he came under fire from the Army headquarters which blamed the TSD created by him for carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations and trying to destabilise the state government in Jammu and Kashmir.

 In his autobiography, Singh blamed unnamed officials in the Prime Minister's Office including a coterie of bureaucrats and journalists for making attempts to destabilise him during his tenure as the Army chief.

 Apart from the controversies surrounding him, Singh is known to be a tough taskmaster and a hands-on person.

 He initiated the transformation studies in the Army to make it more efficient and improving its capability for waging a two-front war.

 A top-notch Commando from the US Army Ranger school, he is credited for accomplishing the tasks assigned to him by the higher authorities.

 He commanded the Ambala-based 2 Strike Corps and the Kolkata-based Eastern Command before taking over as the Army Chief in 2010.

Following is the thumbnail sketches of the other MoS(Independent charge).

Dharmendra Pradhan:

Pradhan, a post graduate in Anthropology from the Utkal University in Odisha, is a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar.

He has been rewarded with a ministerial berth for the stunning victory of BJP in Bihar with him as the the party's campaign in-charge.

Starting his political career as a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Pradhan was elected President of Talcher College Students' Union in 1985.

A vocal opponent of religion based reservation in jobs, Pradhan, in the past, has worked as Election in-charge of Bihar state, Organisational in-charge of party affairs in the states of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Rao Inderjit Singh:

Singh, 63, quit the Congress and joined the BJP few months before the elections were announced and successfully contested from Gurgaon defeating AAP leader Yogendra Yadav and his nearest Indian National Lok Dal rival.

A prominent Ahir leader, he was a member of the council of ministers in the UPA-I where he served as the Minister of State for Defence Production.

During his stint there, Singh pushed indigenous defence production and pushed prestigious DRDO projects including the Arjun tank and LCA.

He was not inducted in the government in the UPA-II amid reports that he had differences with the then Defence Minister AK Antony.

He has also served as Minister of State for External Affairs and chaired the Parliamentary Information technology committee after 2009.

A keen sportsman, he was a member of the Indian shooting Team from 1990 to 2003 and won a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Shooting Championship.

Piyush Goyal:

Goyal, 49, is the BJP treasurer and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A rank-holder CA, Goyal is well-versed with economic issues and has been on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Defence during his stint as Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra.

He is son of senior BJP leader Vedprakash Goyal, who was shipping minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and National Treasurer of the BJP for over two decades.

Goyal-junior heads BJP's Information Communication Campaign Committee that oversees all efforts of the party through internet, mobile and other social media.

Associated with the BJP since 1984, Goyal has held several positions in the party such as Member, National Executive, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He has also served as the party's secretary in Mumbai and National Campaign Incharge for the Lok Sabha elections, 1991.

Goyal is an aluminus of Don Bosco High School, Mumbai and is a law graduate Government Law College, Mumbai and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, New Delhi.

He is also active member of the Managing Committee of Indian Merchants Chamber and is involved with NGOs in diverse fields such as tribal education and welfare of the physically challenged etc.

Sarbabananda Sonowal

51-year-old Sonowal is one of the most promising leaders from Assam.

Elected to Lok Sabha after defeating Union Minister Ranee Narah in Lakhimpur constituency, he is credited with leading the BJP in the state as president to help it bag seven seats out of 14, raising the tally from four.

"My priority is Assam's all round development besides zero tolerance for the illegal migrants and complete seal of Indo-BanglA border," Sonowal told PTI immediately after taking oath.

Sonowal, who had entered Lok Sabha for the first time in 2004 after defeating former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar in Dibrugarh, entered politics by joining AGP in 2001 and soon he was elected as MLA.

He is considered to be one the most popular leaders in Assam having long career in public life since his days as a student leader.

After having difference with the AGP leadership, the former president of powerful All Assam Students Union, had joined the BJP in 2011. He was appointed as the President of the state unit of BJP in 2012.

Sonowal is also credited with successfully challenging the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, which was stuck down by Supreme Court terming the legislation as "the biggest hurdle and is the main impediment or barrier in the identification and deportation of illegal migrants".

 

Nirmala Sitharaman

Sitharaman is another articulate BJP spokesperson who have been rewarded with a ministerial berth.

A serious, at times stern, communicator during TV debates, she is nevertheless liked due to her sincere approach and also the fact she does her best to reply to all questions thrown at her. Though, she also gives as good as she gets.

Not a member of either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha presently, she is likely to be nominated to the Upper House by BJP.

Born in Tamil Nadu and married into an Andhra family, the 59-year-old joined BJP even though her in-laws have had an association with Congress.

She is also a former member of National Commission for Women.

 

Sripad Naik

Naik is a fourth term MP from North Goa and was Minister of State in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government.

Considered a competitor to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in Goa BJP, Naik belongs to influential Bhandari community which constitutes 27 per cent of Goa's population.

Before being elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1999, Naik, 61, was a member of the Legislative Assembly for seven years. He retained his North Goa LS seat in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

As Minister of State, Naik held Agriculture, Shipping, Civil Aviation and Finance portfolios between 2000 and 2004.

He wanted to return to state politics at the time of the assembly elections in 2012 but was denied ticket.

 

Jitendra Singh

A physician by profession, Jitendra Singh had joined BJP in 2009 and is a member of the party's National Executive Committee.

He is also Chief Spokesperson for the Jammu and Kashmir unit of BJP.

Singh (57) contested Lok Sabha election from Udhampur and defeated former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

He has authored eight books and is also a newspaper columnist.

 

Santosh Gangwar

65-year-old Santosh Gangwar has been a Lok Sabha member since 1989 barring 2009, when he lost by a narrow margin.

He was the chief whip of BJP in 14th Lok Sabha.

This time he has won from Bareilly by a margin of over two lakh votes.

Gangwar, who is associated with social work and active politics for over three decades, was jailed during the Emergency.

He also served as a member of the Uttar Pradesh State BJP Working Committee and held the position of General Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh BJP Unit in 1996.

He earlier held ministerial posts at the Centre as Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas with additional charge of Parliament Affairs.

He was also Minister of State of Science and Technology.

 

Vishnu Deo Sai

Vishnu Deo Sai, face of Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh,  is the lone representative from the state to be sworn in as Minister of State in the Narendra Modi government.

50-year-old Sai, a fourth time MP, represents Raigarh constituency.

Sai, a tribal leader, was crucial in ensuring BJP's victory in Chhattisgarh Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

BJP had won 49 seats in the 90-member Assembly in 2013 and won ten out of 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Sai, who heads the state BJP, is considered a close aide of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh. He was a member of Madhya Pradesh Assembly for two consecutive terms - 1990-98 - before the state was carved out in 2000. He was elected to Lok Sabha in 1999, 2004 and 2009.

 

Upendra Kushwaha

A former close supporter of outgoing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Upendra Kushwaha helped NDA make inroads in backward castes voters in Bihar in the current Lok Sabha poll.

Elevated to the post of Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly in 2004 in his very first outing as MLA from Jandaha in Vaishali district by Nitish Kumar, 54-year-old Kushwaha later fell out with Kumar.

After unsuccessfully experimenting with NCP as its state chief, Kushwaha later mended ways with Kumar who sent him to Rajya Sabha in 2010.

But, the rapproachment did not last long and Kushwaha ultimately quit JD(U) and also vacated Rajya Sabha seat.

He formed Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) on March 3, 2013 to launch agitation against Kumar.

His anti-Nitish Kumar tirade earned him a place in NDA with RLSP reaching seat-sharing with BJP.

RLSP won all the three seats of Karakat, Jehanabad and Sitamarhi. Kushwaha himself triumphed from Karakat seat. 

 

Mansukhbhai Vasava

Mansukhbhai Vasava has the rare distinction of being a tribal leader who has got elected from a general seat five times in a row.

Vasava (56) has risen from being a grassroots worker of BJP to a five-term MP from Bharuch, once the stronghold of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, who earlier represented the seat in Parliament.

After serving the party as an ordinary worker, Vasava first came into limelight when he was chosen by BJP to contest  the bye-election to Bharuch in 1998 following the death of

sitting party MP Chandubhai Deshmukh. Vasava, a native of Junaraj village of Narmada district, won.

Vasava won the seat in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

He was earlier elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1994 and also served as deputy minister.

 

Raosaheb Danve

Raosaheb Danve of BJP is a fourth-term member of Lok Sabha from Jalna who rose from the ranks after his baptism in politics at panchayat level.

An under graduate, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1999. He retained the seat in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

He was also twice elected to the Maharashtra Assembly.

 

Sudarshan Bhagat

A Vidyarthi Parishad leader during undivided Bihar in the early 1990s, two-time MP Sudarshan Bhagat is the lone face from Jharkhand in the Narendra Modi government.

The 45-year-old Bhagat, elected as MLA in the 2000 Assembly elections held during the undivided Bihar, became Minister of State in the Babulal Marandi-led NDA

government in Jharkhand.

When the Marandi government fell on the floor of the  House in 2003, Bhagat was made minister of state (Chief Minister' Secretariat) in the subsequent Arjun Munda

government.

Bhagat, however, failed to retain his Gumla assembly seat in the 2005 assembly election, but he went on to win the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, defeating Congress candidate and former union minister Rameshwar Oraon — whom he humbled this time as well.

 

KIREN RIJIJU:

From a grassroot worker to the post of BJP national secretary and now to Parliament, Kiren Rijiju, a youth leader from Arunachal Pradesh, has travelled a long way.

Born in November 19, 1971 at Nakhu Village under Nafra circle in West kameng district, Rijiju is a firebrand young leader who has entered the Lok Sabha for the second time.

Earlier he was elected from Arunachal West constituency to the 14th Lok Sabha.

Soon after his defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, he joined the Congress in August 2009, two months ahead of the Assembly election, and later became the advisor to former chief minister Dorjee Khandu.

As the BJP's MP from Arunachal Pradesh, Rijiju won this time especially because Modi showed a huge interest in the development of the Northeast and wanted the party to grow roots there. He was Modi's 'Look East' candidate.

 

G M SIDDESHWARA

G M Siddeshwara, hailing from the most powerful Lingayat community, is the third time Lok Sabha member. He defeated S S Mallikarjun of Congress by a margin of 17,607 votes in the recently held Lok Sabha elections.

62-year-old Siddeshwara has followed in the footsteps of his father G Mallikarjunappa who was also Member of Parliament from BJP.

Siddeshwara has worked at various party positions both at state and National levels.

He is the Chairman and Advisor for the G M Group with an annual turnover over Rs 200 Crores. The Group companies include GEM Laboratories Pvt Ltd, G M Software Pvt Ltd, Srishyla Farms, GEM International( Three Star Hotel Project in Bangalore), GM Sugars, GM Institute of Technology.

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