LUCKNOW: Almost a decade back after the BJP lost power in Uttar Pradesh under his stewardship, Rajnath Singh cut a lonely figure at his current Ashoka Road residence in the national capital.
Sitting cross-legged and shaving, he told an IANS correspondent, gazing through a small mirror he held in front, that life and times never remained the same.
It couldn't be more true for the 62-year-old leader, now No.2 in the Narendra Modi cabinet.
In subsequent years, not only he rose to become the national Bharatiya Janata Party president December 2005-December 2009, he was nominated for the coveted post again in 2013 and led a team that ultimately won the polls for the National Democratic Alliance.
Labelled as a 'wily Thakur' by many in state politics, Rajnath Singh is known to have friends in all parties and it was for this reason that it was often rumoured during the poll campaign that in case the BJP fell short of majority, he could be front-runner for the post of prime minister.
A firm believer in astrology, Rajnath Singh, however, told his close circle of supporters that this was not possible and stars were by the side of Modi.
He openly batted for the Gujarat chief minister thereafter and made it amply clear that there was no 'plan B' for the BJP and the only plan revolved around Modi.
Still remembered for moving the acclaimed anti-copying law as the state's education minister which rendered a body blow to the mass copying mafia in Uttar Pradesh, Rajnath Singh is also lauded for his various panchayats like the 'Kisan Panchayat', 'Vyapari Panchayat' etc.
During the years as national president, he has carefully weaved his own constituency of supporters. But in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, he however met with stiff opposition as he gave tickets to political turncoats.
He managed to keep the growing dissent in check as he played the 'Modi-proximity' card well.
He, however, remains a political leader who is not completely trusted among the partymen.
Known for his antipathy to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and his own party senior and former chief minister Kalyan Singh, he was quick to bury the hatchet with Kalyan Singh when it suited him.
The hostility was so profound between the two that Kalyan Singh parted ways with the BJP, accusing Rajnath Singh of sidelining him.
Last year too, when Kalyan tinkered with the idea of joining the BJP again, he spoke to his aides and threw a question -- Can we trust Rajnath Singh?
The two, however, decided to move on from the hostilities of the 1990s and put the larger goal of the party before their personal prejudices.
Close aides say the party chief plays his cards well, in time and on astrological advice.
A devotee of the Vindhyavasini temple in Mirzapur, Rajnath Singh, close aides now say, is content with the BJP in power and is okay playing second fiddle to Modi, with whom he shares a good rapport.
A family man, he likes spending time with his wife Savitri Singh, daughter and sons, one of whom - Pankaj, is a state general secretary of the party.
From a time when he barely won the Haidergarh seat of Barabanki as Uttar Pradesh chief minister to a student union leader Arvind Singh 'Gop', he now boasts of a comprehensive victory in Lucknow where he won with a huge margin over his Congress opponent.
He also set a new electoral record in Lucknow, beating the earlier record of victory margin by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.