Rajnath Singh: RSS activist turned Home Minister (Profile)

A former RSS activist who was the Home Minister in Narendra Modi's first stint as Prime Minister, Rajnath Singh is popular in the BJP ranks and headed the party before Amit Shah took charge.

An amiable politician who has friends in almost all political parties, it was when he headed the Home Ministry that the government launched a major crackdown on the Maoists and other insurgents.

He gave a free hand to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take into custody several key separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

Born on July 10, 1951 into a farmer's family in then Varanasi's Babhora village, Rajnath Singh joined the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in 1964 at age 13. He was with the RSS even when he was a lecturer in the K.B. Post Graduate College at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.

Singh started his political career as Organisational Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP) Gorakhpur division, holding the post from 1969 to 1971.

In 1972, he became the RSS General Secretary of Mirzapur and then entered active politics in 1974. He became the District President of Jana Sangh and a key figure in the JP Movement that shook then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

He was elected as an MLA in Uttar Pradesh in 1977. He became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1994 and the Chief Whip of the party in the Upper House.

On November 22, 1999, he was inducted into the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government as the Union Surface Transport Minister.

During this period he initiated the NHDP (National Highway Development Programme), a dream project of Vajpayee.

Rajnath Singh became the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister from 2000 and after two years served as the Agriculture Minister in Vajpayee's Cabinet between 2003 and 2004.

He was the President of the BJP before Amit Shah took charge in 2014.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Singh retained the Lucknow seat by defeating his nearest rival Poonam Sinha of the Samajwadi Party.