Business Standard

Rajnath Singh: Man of all seasons carries Vajpayee's legacy of 'Ajatshatru'


Press Trust of India New Delhi
One of the top leaders of the BJP, Rajnath Singh is a man of all seasons who maintains cordial relations with leaders across the political spectrum and enjoys wide acceptability.
The Home Minister in the outgoing government, on whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi banked on heavily in the last five years whenever there was a crisis, be it farmers agitation, violence in Jammu and Kashmir or Jat quota stir, has been appointed Cabinet minister again.
Many see a reflection of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's mannerism in him and feel he has been carrying forward the party veteran's legacy as 'Ajatshatru, a man with no enemies.
His good rapport with opposition leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Omar Abdullah had made him government's pointsman for any discussion with the opposition.
Even during the bitter political campaign, 67-year-old Singh, who was contesting from Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, was never drawn into any ugly war of words with his opponents.
The image of the minister carrying on his shoulder the coffin of soldiers killed in February 14 Pulwama terror attack will remain etched in the minds of the people.
A former professor of physics, it was Singh, as BJP President in 2013, who was instrumental in declaring Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate, despite strong opposition from veterans like L K Advani.
Singh was the third leader of the BJP, after Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, who had extensively campaigned for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh between 2000-2002, had also held the portfolios of Surface Transport and Agriculture in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
A life-long RSS member, Singh occupied various positions in RSS, ABVP and Uttar Pradesh BJP before becoming the national President of the BJP twice -- 2005 to 2009 and 2013 to 2014.
Singh, who was elected to Lok Sabha from Lucknow for two consecutive terms in 2014 and 2019, was thrice elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and twice to Rajya Sabha. He was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time in 2009 from Ghaziabad.
Singh was appointed district president of the Jana Sangh in 1975 at the age of 24 and was elected as MLA from Mirzapur in 1977.
In 1984, he became the UP state president of the BJP's youth wing BJYM, in 1986, its national general secretary and subsequently national president of the BJYM in 1988.
Singh was elected a member of the UP Legislative Council in 1988 and became Education Minister of the state in 1991. During his tenure as Education Minister in UP, he established some landmarks by introducing the Anti-Copying Act and Vedic Mathematics in the syllabus and correction of various portions of history textbooks.
He became a member of Rajya Sabha in 1994 and also the Chief Whip of the BJP in the upper house.
In 1997, Singh became state president of UP BJP. During this period, apart from expanding and strengthening the organisation, he played a key role in saving the BJP-led government twice during political crisis.
Singh was appointed Union Surface Transport Minister in 1999 and during this period he got the opportunity to initiate the National Highway Development Programme, a dream project of the then Prime Minister Vajpayee.
In October 2000, he became Chief Minister of UP and was twice elected as MLA from Haidargarh constituency in Barabanki. In 2002, he became National General Secretary of 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.

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First Published: May 30 2019 | 7:20 PM IST

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