Nine new faces were today inducted into the Union Council of Ministers including four former senior bureaucrats and BJP leaders from Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh which are scheduled go to polls next year.
Here are their short profiles —
1) Sixty-four-year-old Ashwini Kumar Choubey was a health minister in Bihar. A BJP veteran, he was born at Dariyapur in Bhagalpur and did BSc (Hons) in zoology from Science College, Patna University.
At present, he represents the Buxar Lok Sabha seat. Married to Neeta Choubey, he has two sons. He played an active role in the JP Movement in the 1970s and was taken into custody during the Emergency. The movement was led by Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, who was popularly known as JP.
Chaubey is credited for the slogan — “ghar-ghar me ho shouchalaya ka nirman, tabhi hoga ladli bitiya ka kanyadaan”. He has helped in the construction of 11,000 toilets for Mahadalit families.
2) Virendra Kumar, 63, is the Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh.
From being the convenor of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Sagar in 1977-79 to becoming a Union minister, it has been a long journey for Kumar, who was elected for a sixth Lok Sabha term in 2014.
Kumar had participated in the JP Movement and was in jail for 16 months during the Emergency. He hails from the Scheduled Caste community and hold a masters degree in economics and a PhD in child labour.
3) Sixty-five-year-old Shiv Pratap Shukla is a Rajya Sabha member from the electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh. The lawyer-social worker was earlier a minister in UP. He was appointed a vice president of UP chapter of the BJP in 2012.
A law graduate from Gorakhpur University, Shukla was imprisoned for 19 months during the Emergency.
4) Anant Kumar Hegde, 49, has been a member of the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th (present) Lok Sabha from Uttara Kannada in Karnataka. He is an agriculturist by profession.
At the young age of 28, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time. During his multiple stints in Parliament, he has served as a member of parliamentary standing committees on finance, home affairs, human resource development, commerce, agriculture and external affairs. He has also been a member of the Spices Board of India for four terms. He is a practitioner of martial art Taekwondo.
5) Satya Pal Singh, 61, is a Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. A 1980-batch Maharashtra cadre IPS officer, he resigned as the Mumbai Police chief to take a plunge into politics. He was honoured by the central government in 2008 for his services with the Antrik Suraksha Sewa Padak and a special medal for extraordinary work in naxal-hit areas of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 1990. Singh has written books, including on topics like tribal conflict resolution and naxalism.
Born in Basauli village in Baghpat, he has MSc and MPhil degrees in chemistry, an MBA in strategic management from Australia and an MA in public administrationnas well as a PhD on the naxalite movement.
6) Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, 49, is a Lok Sabha member from Jodhpur in Rajasthan. He is also a national general secretary of the farmers’ wing of the BJP.
A sports enthusiast, Shekhawat has participated at the national and all-India inter-university level in basketball. He currently is a member of the All India Council of Sports and the president of the Basketball India Players Association. He has MPhil and MA degrees in philosophy from Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur.
7) Hardeep Singh Puri, 65, is a 1974-batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and served as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013.
Known for his experience and expertise in foreign policy and national security issues, he is the president and chairman of the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). He was also the vice president of the International Peace Institute, New York. His four-decade career in diplomacy included critical roles as India’s ambassador to Brazil and the United Kingdom, and the Permanent Representative of India to Geneva.
An alumnus of The Hindu College, Delhi University, Puri was a student leader and active during the JP Movement. He briefly taught at St. Stephens College in Delhi before joining the IFS.
8) Raj Kumar Singh, 64, is a former IAS officer of the 1975-batch Bihar cadre and a former Union home secretary. He is a member of the current Lok Sabha representing Arrah in Bihar.
Singh studied English literature at St. Stephens College and is a law graduate. He also studied at the RVB Delft University in the Netherlands.
9) K J Alphons Kannanthanam, a Kerala-cadre IAS officer from the 1979 batch, quit the service in 2006 to join politics. He was also a practicing advocate.
Kannanthanam was known as the ‘demolition man’ during his stint at the Delhi Development Authority between 1992 and 1995 for having ordered razing of thousands of illegal constructions. He began his political journey by becoming an independent MLA backed by the CPI(M) in Kerala in 2006, but joined the BJP in 2011. He is not a member of either House of Parliament.
Born in a non-electrified Manimala village in Kottayam district to a World War II veteran, he pioneered the literacy movement in India as the district collector of Kottayam by making it the first 100 per cent literate town in the country in 1989. He was elected as an Independent member of the Kerala Assembly from Kanjirappally in 2006.
Kannanthanam is a member of the committee set up to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy, 2017. He has authored a book — Making A Difference.