Former diplomat Hardeep Puri, former Union Home Secretary R K Singh, former bureaucrat K J Alphons, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, and five other new faces, including MPs Ashwini Choubey from Bihar and Anant Kumar Hegde from Karnataka, were inducted as ministers of state into the Union Council of Ministers in the expansion and reshuffle carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The others to be inducted were Shiv Pratap Shukla, a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh; Virendra Kumar, a Scheduled Caste member of Lok Sabha from Madhya Pradesh; and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, a Lok Sabha member from Rajasthan.
As reported earlier
, the reshuffle and expansion suggest an admission of abysmal talent crunch in the BJP
ranks. Government sources conceded that with 2019 Lok Sabha polls drawing near, the concern within the government was to ensure last-mile delivery of projects. The Modi government has received criticism from the Opposition for its failures to meet its promises, particularly on job growth.
Meet the 9 newly inducted ministers of state
Shiv Pratap Shukla
A Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, he is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development. He was elected a Member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly for 4 consecutive times in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1996. Shukla served as a Cabinet Minister in the Uttar Pradesh government for 8 years, and is known for his work in Rural Development, Education and Prison reform during his tenure.
A law graduate with an LLB from Gorakhpur University, Shukla started off early in politics as a student leader in the 1970s. He was imprisoned for 19 months under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a Lok Sabha MP from Buxar, Bihar, is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates and Standing Committee on Energy. He is also a Member of Central Silk Board. Choubey has been elected for 5 consecutive terms to the Bihar Legislative Assembly and has held important portfolios including Health, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering as a Cabinet Minister in the Bihar government for 8 years.
Starting early in politics as the President of the Student's Union of Patna University, Choubey actively participated in the JP movement of the 1970s. He was taken into custody during the Emergency under MISA. Choubey is also credited with raising the slogan "Ghar-hhar me ho Shauchalaya ka nirman, Tabhi hoga ladli bitiya ka kanyadaan", and has helped construct 11,000 toilets for Mahadalit families.
Having faced the disastrous Kedarnath floods with his family in 2013, Choubey, who holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology and has a special interest in Yoga, has also authored a book Kedarnath Trasadi .
Virendra Kumar, a Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgah, Madhya Pradesh, has had a distinguished career in public service as a six-term Lok Sabha MP. The chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and the joint committee on office of profit, Kumar is also a member of National Social Security Board.
During his multiple Parliament stints, Kumar has been a member of Parliamentary committees on Labour and Welfare, Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Privileges, Petroleum and Natural Gas.
He had actively participated in the JP movement of the 1970s and went to jail for 16 months under MISA during the Emergency. Kumar had initiated a movement for solving the problems faced by students and opened a library for their assistance.
Coming from the Scheduled Caste community, Kumar has dedicated his life to its service. He has been engaging the youth in removing the barriers of caste and class, and works for building orphanages, schools for divyang and old-age homes.
Academically, Kumar holds an MA degree in Economics and a PhD in Child Labour.
A Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, Anantkumar Hegde is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and Human Resource Development. Having been elected as an MP for the first time at the young age of 28 years, Hedge is now a fifth-term Lok Sabha MP.
Over his multiple Parliament stints, he has been a member of multiple Parliamentary standing committees like those on finance, home affairs, human resource development, commerce, agriculture and external affairs. Hegde has also been a member of the Spices Board of India for four terms.
With a deep focus on rural India, Anantkumar Hegde is the founding president of Kadamba, an NGO working in the field of rural development, rural health, SHGs, rural marketing and other rural welfare programmes.
Hegde is also a practitioner of Korean Martial Art Tae-kwon-do.
Raj Kumar Singh
A 1975-batch Bihar-cadre former IAS officer, Raj Kumar Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Arrah, Bihar and a Member of the Parliamentary standing committees on health and family welfare, personnel, pensions and public grievances and law & justice.
He rose up the ranks to become the Home Secretary of India. In an illustrious career, he served in multiple important roles and responsibilities, including those of defence production secretary and joint secretary home. He also headed home, industries, public works and agriculture departments in the Bihar government. He is known for his contributions to schemes for Police Modernisation and prison modernisation, and laying down of a framework for disaster management.
Singh studied English Literature at St Stephens College, Delhi University, and was awarded a Bachelors degree in law thereafter. He also went on to study at the RVB Delft University in Netherlands.
Hardeep Singh Puri
A decorated former IFS officer of the 1974 batch, Hardeep Puri is known for his experience and expertise in foreign policy and national security. He is the president and chairman of the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), and earlier was the vice-president of International Peace Institute, New York.
Puri’s distinguished four-decade career in diplomacy, spanning multilateral arena, has included critical roles such as those of the Ambassador and permanent representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador to Brazil and the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative of India to Geneva.
As Head of the Indian Delegation to the UN Security Council, Puri had served as the chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN, and as the president of the United Nations Security Council.
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 before joining the IFS.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
is a Lok Sabha MP from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, and a member of the Parliamentary standing committee on Finance, and chairperson of the Fellowship Committee. As a technology-savvy, progressive farmer, Shekhawat is seen as a role model for the rural community.
Known for his simple lifestyle, he is one of the most followed political leaders globally on popular Q&A blogging site Quora. His popularity on social media reflects his connect with the youth of today.
A sports enthusiast, Shekhawat has participated at national and All-India Inter University level basketball tournaments and is currently a member of the All India Council of Sports and president of Basketball India Players Association.
He holds an MPhil and an MA in Philosophy degrees from Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur.
Satya Pal Singh
A Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, Satya Pal Singh
is a member of the Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs and the chairperson of the joint committee on offices of profit.
Singh is a distinguished former IPS officer of the 1980 batch, Maharashtra cadre, and has been recognised with medals like the Antrik Suraksha Sewa Padak by the Government of India (2008) and a Special Service Medal for extraordinary work in the Naxalite areas of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (1990).
He has been a Commissioner of Police for Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, and is credited with breaking organised crime syndicates in Mumbai in the 1990s.
Singh has written several best-selling books on issues including tribal conflict resolution and Naxalism. He is a scholar of Vedic studies and Sanskrit, and regularly delivers lectures on spirituality, religious harmony and corruption.
Born in Basauli village in Baghpat, Singh holds an MSc and MPhil in Chemistry, MBA in Strategic Management from Australia, MA in Public Administration, and a PhD on Naxalism.
Alphons Kannanthanam is a distinguished 1979-batch Kerala-cadre former IAS officer and a practising advocate. He became famous as Delhi's Demolition Man as the Commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority, as he cleared DDA areas of encroachment by removing around 15,000 illegal buildings. This got Kannanthanam listed in Time Magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994.
Born in the non-electrified Manimala village of Kottayam district to a World War-II veteran, Kannanthanam pioneered the literacy movement in India as District Collector of Kottayam by making it the first 100 per cent literate town in India in 1989.
He set up Janshakti, an NGO in 1994, to get citizens to believe in their ability to make government accountable to people. After retiring from the IAS, Kannanthanam got elected as an independent Member of Legislative Assembly for Kanjirappally in Kerala and served a term from 2006 to 2011.
A member of the committee to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy, 2017, Kannanthanam has authored the best-selling book Making A Difference.