DEHRADUN: Nainital MP Ajay Bhatt simultaneously held two important offices as the Uttarakhand BJP chief and the Leader of Opposition at the time of the previous Assembly polls, and piloted his party to a massive win of 57 of 70 seats.
The Nainital MP, who was sworn in as a Union Minister on Wednesday, has served the BJP successfully in several key positions in Uttarakhand over the years.
The former Ranikhet MLA helped the BJP overcome the formidable challenge of wresting power from the Congress in the 2017 polls.
The 60-year-old Brahmin leader from Kumaon had a stroke of bad luck too as he himself could not retain his own seat.
However, Bhatt more than made up for the loss when he became an MP for the first time in the 2019 General Election, defeating seasoned Congress leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat in Nainital by 3,39,096 votes.
It was the biggest margin with which any MP had won from the state that year and highly creditable given the fact that it was Bhatt's Lok Sabha poll debut made against a Congress heavyweight like Rawat.
Though aggressive as a Leader of Opposition, Bhatt's attacks in the Assembly were always couched in dignified language.
He always came to the House fully prepared, armed with facts and figures and never faltered during debates.
Bhatt's name was among the probables for the chief minister's post in Uttarakhand whenever talks of a change of guard arose in the state.
First, when Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced by Tirath Singh Rawat and then more recently when Tirath was replaced by Pushkar Singh Dhami as the new chief minister.
Born on May 1, 1961 at Ranikhet to Kamlapati Bhatt and Tulsi Devi, Ajay Bhatt lost his father at an early age and had a childhood full of struggle.
After getting a law degree from Almora College, he had a successful career as a lawyer.
He joined the ABVP as a student and has been in active politics since 1980.
Inspired by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, Bhatt was actively associated with the Uttarakhand's struggle for statehood and the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
He won from Ranikhet for the first time in undivided Uttar Pradesh in 1996.
He also became a minister in the Interim government led by Nityanand Swamy in Uttarakhand when it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.
He represented Ranikhet in the Uttarakhand Assembly for two terms from 2002-2007 and then again from 2012-2017.