New Delhi: Formerly the Minister of Home Affairs of India, Rajnath Singh was appointed as the defence minister in the Narendra Modi’s cabinet sworn in on Thursday.
Known as a key negotiator within his party, Rajnath’s political career spans over 45 years, and the veteran leader rose through the ranks from the grassroots. As BJP President in 2013, he was instrumental in declaring Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, despite strong opposition from veterans like LK Advani.
According to his website, he had a brush with the RSS in his student life, and it was through the organization that he stepped into politics and joined Jana Sangh in 1974.
From a district president of the Jana Sangh in 1975 to a legislator from a small town Mirzapur in 1977, and to Uttar Pradesh chief minister, BJP’s national president, and a Union minister, Rajnath comes with immense organizational, political and administrative experience.
In 1984, he became the Uttar Pradesh president of the BJP’s youth wing BJYM, in 1986, its national general secretary and subsequently national president of the BJYM in 1988. Later, he became state president of Uttar Pradesh BJP.
He was elected a member of the Uttar Pradesh legislative council in 1988 and became education minister of the state in 1991. During his tenure as education minister of Uttar Pradesh, he established some landmarks by introducing the Anti-Copying Act and Vedic Mathematics in the syllabus and correction of various portions of history textbooks.
A professor of Physics by profession, Singh also held the portfolios of Surface Transport and Agriculture in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999 and during this period, he got the opportunity to initiate the National Highway Development Programme, a dream project of then Prime Minister Vajpayee.
He has been thrice elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and twice to the Rajya Sabha. In October 2000, he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and was twice elected as legislator from Haidargarh constituency in Barabanki. In 2002, he became National General Secretary of the BJP.
On May 24, 2003, he became Union Minister of Agriculture and subsequently for Food Processing. During this period he initiated a few epoch-making projects like Kisan Call Centre and Farm Income Insurance Scheme.
Singh was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Ghaziabad in 2009. In the 17th Lok Sabha he represents the prestigious constituency of Lucknow, previously held by BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee, having defeated his nearest rival — Samajwadi Party’s Poonam Sinha — by over 3.4 lakh votes.