India's ministry reshuffle: Profiles of ministers inducted

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded his Council of Minister's inducting 19 fresh faces and promoting one. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

PTI New Delhi, India Jul 05, 2016, 10.02 AM (IST)
A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Arjun Ram Meghwal, the chief whip of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Lower House of India's Parliament (Lok Sabha), is known for his penchant for pedalling to the Parliament.

Meghwal was born into family of weavers in the western state of Rajasthan's Kishmidesar village of Bikaner district. He began his career as a telephone operator while pursuing his LLB and got into the Rajasthan Civil Services after two failed attempts.

He was later promoted to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

A two-time member of Parliament, the 61-year-old was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 from Bikaner constituency which was earlier represented by Bollywood star Dharmendra.

Known for his active participation in Lok Sabha debates on a variety of issues, Meghwal had recently attacked the judiciary for its "extra constitutional" activism. The leader had demanded that "running commentary" by judges should end.

Easily identified by his green and saffron turban, Meghwal has of late started using a bicycle to commute to Parliament during sessions. This, he says, saves fuel, protects environment and keeps him fit. He often sings bhajans (hymns) in the morning which he says keep him mentally alert.

As an MP, he has been a member of various parliamentary Committees including on defence, science and technology, environment and forest, personnel, public grievances and law and justice.

Meghwal has participated in many programmes for development of Rajasthani language and its inclusion in 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

From ploughing the fields to being an advocate and a lawmaker, P P Chaudhary, who cut his teeth in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh a right-wing volunteer organisation (RSS), has been catapulted to the centrestage of politics with his induction in the Union Council of Ministers.

Born in a poor farmer family, 62-year-old Chaudhary joined the RSS when he was eight years old as a 'Bal Swayamsevak'  (child volunteer) in 1961. Hailing from Bhavi in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, Chaudhary worked hard to study law and went on to become a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.

He was given a ticket by the BJP from Pali in Rajasthan and won the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Specialising in constitutional matters, he claims to have argued nearly 11,000 cases in his long professional career of almost four decades. He was also standing counsel of the Central Government in 1990.

He has also handled cases relating to farmers and those relating to land acquisition, as well as public interest litigations. He also fought cases relating to para-teachers in Rajasthan up to the Supreme Court and the Vasundhara Raje government gave them jobs after coming to power.

He was part of the Joint Committee of Parliament that looked into the contentious Land Acquisition bill brought in by National Democratic Alliance party (NDA) and later abandoned it.

He has been active as a social worker and has worked to uplift the educational status of children, especially girls, in rural areas
Chaudhary also worked actively for the cause of farmers in Rajasthan and took initiatives like irrigation projects organic farming.

He has been elected for three years as Member of the International Executive Committee, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, London, UK, where he effectively put forward the India's view point on Jammu and Kashmir.

He also claimed to have provided insurance cover for 1.31 lakh women of Pali Lok Sabha constituency--one of the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Rajasthan-- from his own salary as a parliamentarian. 

From an obscure local village--self governance--body (panchayat) functionary to a Union Minister, it has been a spectacular political journey for Ajay Tamta.

Tamta, who would turn 44 on July 16, cut his teeth in politics as a member of district panchayat in his home state Uttarakhand in northern India and rose to become its vice president.

The induction of the leader from Almora comes at a time when BJP is promoting leaders of the socially disadvantaged communities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where assembly polls are due early next year.

A first-term member of the Lower House of India's Parliament, Tamta is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) as also of the Consultative Committee in the ministry of water resources,river development and Ganga (river) rejuvenation. He was earlier a member of the Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Earlier he was a minister in his home state between 2007 and 2009.

He had contested state assembly polls in 2002 as an independent but lost. Tamta tried his luck at the hustings again in 2007 and won on BJP ticket.

Mahendra Nath Pandey from Uttar Pradesh, where it is going the whole hog to win after being out of power for a decade-and-a-half.

Pandey, a first-time Lok Sabha member, is a member of Parliament from Chandauli bordering the eastern state of Bihar.

Pandey's induction in the Union government is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the significantly large Brahmin vote bank in the state. The Brahmins, who were traditionally Congress supporters, had been siding with BJP in the post-Mandal era. However, a large chunk of them later also voted for Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The 58-year-old leader is a two-time Member of the Legislative Assembly and was elected to the UP Legislative Assembly in 1991 and 1996. He was the secretary of the BJP legislature party.

In 1997, Pandey became Minister of State (MoS) for Housing and Urban Development and was the MoS Planning (Independent charge) between 1998 and 2000. He was also the MoS Panchayati Raj in UP between 2000 and 2002.

He has a Masters in Journalism and PhD (Hindi) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Pandey is currently a member of the Business Advisory Committee and the Committee of Parliament on Official Language.
In the past, he was a member of the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Consultative Committee, Ministry of Steel and Mines.

Rajen Gohaine is a four-time BJP MP from Assam is a known champion for the cause of small tea growers in the Northeastern state.
Gohain, 65, who was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1999 from Nagaon, is a law graduate and was actively involved in the six-year-long Assam agitation against illegal immigrants in early 1980s.

He belongs to the Ahom community like former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and his induction into the Modi government an attempt by the BJP to penetrate into this community, traditionally known as Congress supporters.

Despite Nagaon being a minority dominated constituency, Gohain was elected to the Lower House for four consecutive terms.

"I will try my level best to serve the people of Assam. I request the people of Assam to be with me in this journey," Gohain said.
He has been a leading figure in Assam to fight for the cause of small tea garden owners, who often allege discrimination by big tea companies.

A state-level hockey player in his school days, Gohain was also a long-distance runner.

He is Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes.