India

The new faces in Modi Cabinet | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Ashwini Vaishnaw|50
Rlys; Communications; Electronics & IT
Ashwini Vaishnaw is a 1994-batch former IAS officer of the Odisha cadre who worked as a deputy secretary in the PMO during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term and has also been associated with many key initiatives of the Modi government. Armed with an MTech from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from Wharton, Vaishnaw brings to the table multidimensional skills drawn from stints in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur. Though BJD had the numbers to send someone from its ranks to the Rajya Sabha in 2019, it backed Vaishnaw’s nomination by BJP
Jyotiraditya Scindia|50
Civil Aviation
Known for his ‘drive’, both on the cricket field and the political pitch, Jyotiraditya Scindia (50) brought BJP back to office in Madhya Pradesh by breaking away from Congress with his loyalists and toppling the Congress-led government in 2020. Scion of the Gwalior royal family, he inherited both politics and love of cricket from his father Madhavrao Scindia. His grandmother, Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia, was one of the founder members of BJP. A powerful orator, he was the key in Congress returning to government in MP in 2018 after 15 years. But when he didn’t get his due, he rebelled and switched to BJP. Scindia had been junior Union minister for communications and IT in 2006 and then commerce and industries. An alumnus of Harvard and Stanford, he is a former president of the MP Cricket Association
Sarbananda Sonowal|51
Ports, Shipping & Waterways
Former Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal (59) returns to the national centrestage with not just his prestige intact, but also carrying the message that losing to win is not yet an art lost to politics. Praised for gracefully making way for Himanta Biswa Sarma to take over as CM after NDA retained office, the former All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu) president is credited with getting the contentious Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 scrapped after a long legal battle in the Supreme Court. Ironically, as CM many years later, he fell foul of Aasu for toeing the Centre’s line on CAA. Since 2001, when Sonowal was first elected to the assembly on an AGP ticket, several heavyweights who transitioned from Aasu to politics have fallen by the wayside. But Sonowal, who joined BJP in 2011 and became Union minister of youth affairs and sports in the first Modi government, has gone from strength to strength
Pashupati Kumar Paras|68
Food Processing Industries
Lok Janshakti Party MP Pashupati Kumar Paras (68) has been rewarded with a central ministerial berth just over three weeks after engineering a coup in the party founded by his elder brother and former Union minister late Ram Vilas Paswan. A seven-term MLA, Paras was a minister in the Nitish Kumar government when the LJP was part of the NDA government in Bihar in 2017. Paras had remained a trusted lieutenant of his elder brother till he was alive. LJP fielded him from Hajipur in the 2019 Lok Sabha election on the recommendation of Ram Vilas, whom he used to call “saheb”. Unable to digest Ram Vilas’s son Chirag being promoted as party chief ahead of him, Paras and four party MPs staged the infamous June 13 coup whose repercussions continue to be felt
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh|62
Steel
Not many bureaucrats have worn their political hats well. But JD(U) national president and Rajya Sabha member Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (62), aka RCP, has taken just about 11 years since taking voluntary retirement from the IAS to chart a rising trajectory – from Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s side to PM Narendra Modi’s ministry. Nitish was the railway minister when he discovered RCP as someone he could trust and made him his personal secretary. Postretirement, he was sent to the Rajya Sabha and has since held several key posts in JD(U). In his elevation to the Union cabinet, RCP has leapfrogged into new territory
Shobha Karandlaje|54
Agriculture & Family Welfare (Junior)
For two-time MP and ex-Karnataka minister Shobha Karandlaje (54), a berth in the Modi cabinet almost marks a political rebirth after lying low for some time. Though she climbed the ladder of politics with BS Yediyurappa as her mentor, Karandlaje had distanced herself from him after he became CM in 2019, reportedly for personal reasons. A postgraduate in social work, she is known as an orator and a fierce advocate of Hindutva, which comes from her being associated with RSS since a young age. She remains one of RSS’s full-time women workers
Rajeev Chandrasekhar|57
Skill Development (Junior)
The inclusion of entrepreneur and three-time RS member Rajeev Chandrasekhar (57) in the Modi cabinet is seen as an extension of the PM’s wish to have technocrats in his team. The Karnataka MP was a senior design engineer and then a CPU architect at Intel’s microprocessor team and worked under Vinod Dham and current CEO Pat Gelsinger. Chandrasekhar was twice elected to RS as an Independent before he joined BJP in 2016. In Parliament, he has been a member of several standing committees, including on GST. He remains one of BJP’s national talking heads and vice-chairman of NDA’s Kerala wing
BL Varma|59
Development Of NE Region; Cooperation (Junior)
Rajya Sabha member BL Varma (59), a native of UP’s Badaun, was an LIC agent before he came in contact with ex-CM Kalyan Singh and his life changed. When Singh formed RKP after parting ways with BJP, Verma was made its state president. He rejoined BJP and went on to become the party’s Bareilly-Rohilkhand chief during Laxmikant Bajpayi’s tenure as state BJP president. Nominated to the RS in 2020, Varma has an MA degree from Varanasi’s Sampurnanand Sanskrit University
Anupriya Patel|40
Commerce & Industry (Jr)
Anupriya Patel (40), president of NDA ally Apna Dal and two-time MP from UP’s Mirzapur, was a junior minister in the first Modi government but didn’t join the ministry after NDA returned to office because her party wanted a greater share of the spoils. A place in the ministry two years later marks the return of Apna Dal founder Sonelal Patel’s MBA daughter to the political limelight
SP Singh Baghel|61
Law & Justice (Junior)
Agra MP SP Singh Baghel has a reputation of being a party-hopper, having been a threetime Samajwadi Party MP from Jalesar before joining BJP just ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. He won the Tundla seat and went on to become a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. In between, he had a short stint as a BSP Rajya Sabha member. Baghel, who has a law degree and a PhD in military science, had faced scrutiny over his caste certificate when he contested the Agra reserved seat in 2019




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