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Congress veterans return to power after nine years

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 22, 2004 23:37 IST
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Congress veterans Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Natwar Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, along with several other Congress leaders, returned to the corridors of power after nine years in the Manmohan Singh-led coalition government.

Brief profiles of those inducted into the Union Council of Ministers:

Pranab Mukherjee: Congress strategist and number two in the Indira Gandhi government. The veteran party leader from West Bengal is back in the corridors of power under the leadership of a man he had once appointed as Reserve Bank of India Governor.

Having rural roots, the 69-year-old Gandhi family loyalist makes his maiden entry to Lok Sabha in his nearly four-decade political career.

Beginning his career as a lecturer and having a tryst with journalism, Mukherjee has traversed a long path in the national political spectrum, holding key portfolios in the Central governments like Finance, Commerce, Steel and Mines, and External Affairs from the 1970s to 1996.

Born in a small village of Kinahar in West Bengal's Birbhum district, the rural school-bred student majored in History and Political Science and later graduated in Law.

Mukherjee, who made his major break in politics by getting elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1969 and got re-elected four times, had been labeled by critics as a 'minister who has never been elected to the Lok Sabha.' But not anymore as he has got elected from Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal's Murshidabad district this time when he returned to electoral politics after 24 years.

Natwar Singh: A seasoned diplomat, Singh, 73, made a mark as an able administrator, Parliamentarian and a tough negotiator on issues related to foreign affairs.

After graduating from St Stephen's College, New Delhi, and continuing his higher education at Cambridge and Peking University in China, Singh headed Indian missions in Poland, Zambia and Pakistan besides serving in Britain as deputy high commissioner.

Elected to the eighth Lok Sabha in 1984, he joined the Rajiv Gandhi government as minister of state for steel the next year. In 1986, he was appointed as minister of state in the External Affairs Ministry and held the position for three years.

Joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1953, Singh served in New York and held important positions, including secretary in the External Affairs Ministry.

He was a member of the prime minister's secretariat during Indira Gandhi's tenure (1966 to 1971).

Widely traveled, Singh visited over 100 countries in connection with diplomatic and other official assignments. He accompanied Indira Gandhi on her tours to 29 countries.

A multifaceted personality, Singh, who married Heminder Kaur, eldest daughter of the late Maharaja Yadvindra Singh of Patiala in 1967, is also a widely acclaimed writer.

Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi: A firebrand leader, he started his political career as a student leader in his 30s and rose to become a top-ranking Congress leader at the national level.

Born on August 5, 1945, Dasmunshi was initiated into politics as Chhatra Parishad President in 1966 and continued to steer the students' wing of the Congress for a few years before graduating to electoral politics.

Earning the distinction of defeating freedom fighter and Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Ganesh Ghosh in the Calcutta South Lok Sabha constituency in 1971, Dasmunshi lost the seat to Dilip Chakraborty (Janata Party) in 1977 in the wake of the anti-Indira wave after the Emergency.

Subsequently he joined the Congress-U but lost the 1980 Lok Sabha election in Purulia. Returning to the Congress he posted a remarkable win from the Howrah parliamentary seat, after Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

Known for his oratorial skill, Dasmunshi was a Congress Working Committee member in 1972 during Indira Gandhi's regime, president of the All-India Youth Congress in 1972, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief in 1985, besides holding the post of minister of state for commerce in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet the following year.

He was also Congress party chief whip in the 13th Lok Sabha.

Dasmunshi's victory from Raiganj this year was his second consecutive win.

He has a keen interest in sport and has headed the All-India Football Federation for 16 years. He is also a member of FIFA's technical committee and chairman of the Asian Football Confederation's Women's Committee.

Kamal Nath: Considered close to the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi from his Doon school days, the industrialist-turned-politician has seen good and bad days in the Congress, sometimes inducted into the Union Cabinet and sometimes denied even a ticket to fight elections.

He jumped into politics as a Youth Congress worker in 1968. And 12 years later, he won the tribal-dominated and backward Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, which has been his stronghold ever since.

Born on November 18, 1948, the All India Congress Committee general secretary is a Commerce graduate from St Xavier's College, Kolkata, and was close to Sanjay Gandhi.

He was elected to Parliament from Chhindwara, which is covered by large tracts of lush tropical forests, in 1984, 1989, 1991, 1999 and 2004.

In the mid-90s, the hawala-tainted Nath faced a political crisis, as he was denied a Congress ticket. Not one to be kept down for long, he staged a comeback into the party's inner circles.

In his three-and-a-half decade political career, Nath was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers and given charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests in June 1991. He enunciated global concepts on environmental tariffs and conceptualised global emission quotes.

During his tenure as textiles minister, India touched new heights in the production and export of cotton. A new textile policy was launched to increase exports of garments and fabrics.

Ghulam Nabi Azad: A successful politician who has never contested an election in his home state, he led the Congress to victory in the 2002 assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Azad, who has played a long innings in the Congress since the early 1970s, is considered very close to 10 Janpath and was among the coterie of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in whose government he held important ministries like Home, Civil Aviation, Tourism and Parliamentary Affairs.

Azad, 57, who took over as Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief when the party was in shambles, not only revived the almost dormant party but led it from the front to victory in the assembly polls and formed a government with the PDP in the state. After the polls, he quit as leader of the Congress legislature party to pave way for Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to become chief minister.

He has been a Rajya Sabha member since 1990.

S Jaipal Reddy:  An eloquent speaker and the Congress' media-savvy face, he once again makes his entry into the government with his experience as information and broadcasting minister during the United Front government.
Undeterred by his physical handicap, having been afflicted with polio at the age of two, Reddy is rated as one of the best spokesmen.

From Congress to the Janata Dal and back to the Congress after 24 years, it has been a long political journey for Reddy.

A person who always maintained his cool and with his superb repartee in the House, he had the honour of getting the Best Parliamentarian Award.

Shivraj V Patil: For Patil, 69, the return to the Cabinet was surprising, as he had lost the recent Lok Sabha polls from Latur constituency of Maharasthra.
Patil brings with him a rich and varied experience as Union Cabinet minister having held charges of various ministries during his political career as also that of Lok Sabha Speaker.
Patil had also been a minister in Maharasthra and a minister under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s, having served as minister of state for defence and commerce with Independent charge.

Sunil Dutt: For a man who has defied age and crisscrossed the country on foot, with the sole ambition of spreading the message of peace and communal harmony, the actor-turned-activist's entry into the corridors of power has come after a long padayatra.

Born in Kurd (now in Pakistan) on June 6, 1929, Dutt suffered the travails and tribulations of Partition. But his mother's advice that 'those who wallow in the past only learn to hate and do not move ahead in life,' spurred him ahead in life.
As an undergraduate at Jai Hind College, Dutt joined a British advertising company to supplement his family income.

Graduation over, the good-looking Dutt was introduced to the world of films where he met many stalwarts, including his future wife Nargis. But the 1980s saw his life take a different turn, when cancer claimed his wife. A heartbroken Dutt turned to social work in a big way, helping scores of others going through the trauma of cancer. His social work drew him to politics.

His foray into politics in 1984 saw him tasting success, when he contested as a Congress candidate. The soft-spoken actor trounced heavyweight Ram Jethmalani during his maiden entry into the political arena. He was again elected in 1989 and 1991.

But the Congress parliamentarian did not contest in the 1996 and 1998 elections. Political observers attributed this to the Dutt family being obliged to Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray for helping Sanjay Dutt, who faced charges under the Terrorists And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. In 1999, Dutt was once again won.
In 2004, he defeated the Sena's firebrand leader Sanjay Nirupam.

Hans Raj Bhardwaj: A trusted lieutenant of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, H R Bhardwaj staged a comeback after eight years. A Congressman to the core and member of national executive of the Indian Youth Congress from 1957, Bharadwaj had stood like a rock behind Gandhi during the post-Emergency days for the Congress when he had defended the then party chief in many cases.

The 67-year-old party veteran held the post of minister of state for law, justice and company affairs in the Congress government headed by Narasimha Rao (1991 to 1996). In 1982, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha, marking the beginning of a long innings in politics at the Centre. Three years after his entry into the House of Elders, the politician from Haryana was rewarded with a berth in the Council of Ministers headed by Rajiv Gandhi, where he held the post of minister of state for law and justice (1985 to 1989).

Meira Kumar: Daughter of the late Jagjivan Ram, a former Indian Foreign Service officer and elected to the Lok Sabha from Sasaram constituency, Bihar, she makes her entry into the Union Council of Ministers. Kumar, who has represented Delhi's Karol Bagh seat in the Lok Sabha, had a brief association with the Bharatiya Janata Party before returning to the Congress fold. As a parliamentarian, the issues closest to her have been the upliftment of scheduled castes and tribes, women and elimination of child labour.

P Chidambaram: The Harvard educated senior advocate was the Union finance minister in the United Front Government (1996 to 1998). Chidambaram, 58, elected to the Lok Sabha six times since 1984, was also commerce minister in the Narasimha Rao government.
Earlier he had served as minister for personal public grievances and pension and internal security (Home Department) in 1985 in the late Rajiv Gandhi government.
Chidambaram, who had his college education at Loyola, Presidency and Law Colleges, Chennai, securing first rank, completed his MBA from Harvard when 23. An eloquent speaker in English and Tamil, he practices in high courts and the Supreme Court, and as a solicitor takes part in arbitration cases abroad for multinational companies.

He got involved in politics, trade union activities and law soon after his return from Harvard. Chidambaram was the recipient of Asia's best finance minister award given by an Australian university in 1997. The same year the Union Budget presented by him was described as a 'dream' budget and widely acknowledged by a cross section of the people and media.

Sharad Pawar: Known for his keen political acumen, his strong leadership and thorough study of caste politics, and popularly known as 'saheb' to the masses, Pawar has always been a man to reckon with whether inside the Congress or outside it. Born in December 1940, Pawar a native of Baramati, became president of the state Youth Congress at 24 and a member of the Maharashtra assembly at 27 and minister of state for home five years later.

In 1978, he became the chief minister after toppling the Congress government of Vasantrao Patil, splitting the party, and forming a government along with the Janata Party under the banner of the Progressive Democratic Front.

Becoming the youngest chief minister of Maharashtra at the age of 38, Pawar went on to don the chief minister's mantle on three more occasions --June 1988 to February 1989, March 1989 to June 1991 and March 1993 to March 1995.

Pawar, who had formed his Congress-S in the early 1980s returned to the Congress fold in 1986 after Rajiv Gandhi took over, only to become chief minister two years later in 1988. He was appointed defence minister in 1991 but came back to hold the state's reigns in 1993 when he became the chief minister for the fourth time.

In 1996 he was elected as a Lok Sabha member and became Leader of the Congress in the House. He was once again elected as a parliamentarian in 1998 and went to become Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. He captured the Baramati seat in Western Maharashtra six times -- 1984, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Pawar formed the Nationalist Congress Party in 1999 after walking out of the Congress on Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin issue.

Laloo Prasad Yadav: The effervescent Laloo Yadav, who has weathered many a political storm and earned the sobriquet of king maker, makes his debut in the Union Cabinet.

Known for his wit and humour and unique rustic style by which he has won the hearts of the masses, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief rose from the ranks of a student leader during the days of JP movement to a national level politician.

Yadav, who is in his 50s, was Bihar chief minister twice between 1990 and 1997 before he handed over the reins of the power to his wife Rabri Devi after the Supreme Court asked him to surrender before a trial court following a non-bailable arrest warrant against him in a conspiracy case of the Rs 950-crore fodder scam. He was president of undivided Janata Dal between January 1996 and July 1997 before launching the RJD, engineering a split in the party in July 1997 after his detractors like former Union minister Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, now president of Lok Janshakti Party -- an ally of RJD -- launched a campaign for his ouster.

Yadav did his BA and LLB from Patna University. He made his entry to the Lok Sabha in March 1977 from Chhapra. He was a member of the state assembly between 1980 and 1989 for two terms and was leader of the Opposition between January 1989 and November 1989.

Ram Vilas Paswan: One of the tallest Dalit leaders, Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party returns to the Union government after two years. Parting ways with the National Democratic Alliance in 2002 in the wake of the post-Godhra communal violence in Gujarat, he quit the Janata Dal-United to float his party.

Born in Saharbani village, Khagaria district, to an ordinary farmer in 1947, Paswan took the plunge into politics in the mid-1960s, leaving a lucrative police job as deputy superintendent of police. A disciple of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, he became a member of the state assembly for the first time from Aulauli seat in Khagaria in 1967.

He rose to national politics in 1977 after he won the Hajipur Lok Sabha seat on a Janata Party ticket by a record margin of 4.24 lakh votes.

He retained the seat in 1980 but lost in 1984 at the hands of Congress' Ram Ratan Ram.

Paswan, who changed the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Bihar in favour of the secular front by joining hands with RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav and the Congress, won from Hajipur for the seventh time, beating JD-U's Chedi Paswan by over 2.5 lakh votes.

A votary of socialism, who did his MA and LLB from Patna University, Paswan has been a Member of Parliament eight times.

T R Baalu: A minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance government, T R Baalu has been elected MP for the fourth time from South Chennai constituency. Baalu, 62, a BSc graduate and hailing from Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, made his debut in 1996 and has since won from the constituency in 1998, 1999 and 2004. He was a legislator for 10 years from 1986. In the Union Cabinet, Baalu held various portfolios, including Petroleum and Natural gas and Environment and Forests.

He has been with the Dravidra Munnetra Kazagham since 1957 and was jailed for a year in 1976.

Dayanidhi Maran: Son of the late Union minister Murasoli Maran and grandnephew of DMK President M Karunanidhi, Maran, 34, was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Central Chennai constituency in his maiden attempt. After finishing schooling at Don Bosco School in Chennai, Maran did his graduation in economics from the city's Loyola College and MBA from Harvard.

From his school days, he had shown a keen interest in politics. In 1994, he became managing director of Sumangali Cable Vision, a private television channel and multi-system operator, floated by the Sun TV group. When Dr Manmohan Singh and Kamal Nath came for talks to firm up an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, Maran was one of those who represented the DMK.

Sibu Soren: A name synonymous with decades of the Jharkhand agitation for statehood, he is a charismatic tribal leader who has become a Union minister for the first time. Known as a crusader for fulfillment of the aspirations of tribals, Soren spearheaded the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha for realisation of the dream of a separate state. Guruji to his supporters, the 62-year-old bearded tribal leader was born at Nimragaon, Hazaribag, and studied at Gola High School, but dropped out after his father, a teacher, was killed by landlords for fighting against exploitation of the poor and timber smuggling.

Soren stepped into his father's shoes, raising his voice against landlords and smugglers under the banner of the Sonu Santhal Samaj and Adivasi Sudhar Samiti in Dhanbad, which spread in the tribal dominated Santhal Pargana. In 1973, he set up JMM to fulfill the dream of statehood and in the process invited stern orders against him from the administration, including shoot-at-sight orders from the then Congress government in an undivided Bihar.

But he surrendered after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi offered to hold talks with him, paving the way for an alliance between the Congress and the JMM in 1980.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh: A Socialist to the core, he comes back to the Union ministry after two brief stints in the United Front Government. A product of the JP movement, Singh had his baptism in politics in his young days when he took part in political agitations and was imprisoned. Having won the Lok Sabha election from Vaishali in Bihar for the fourth time, Singh, born on June 1946, did his MSc and PhD and was a lecturer in Mathematics at Goenka College, Sitamarhi, under Bihar University.

He was dismissed from university service during the Emergency but was reinstated later. He was minister of state for power in Bihar between 1977 and 1979 as he got his maiden entry to the state assembly in 1977. Singh, a close aide of RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, was Deputy Speaker of the state assembly in 1990 when Yadav stormed to power in Bihar.

He won the assembly election in 1980 on a Janata Party-S ticket and on a Dalit Mazdoor Kisan party ticket in 1985. He joined the Janata Dal in 1987 and lost the assembly election in 1990 from Belsand, Bihar.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 for the first time and became Union minister of state for animal husbandry and dairy (Independent charge). In 1997-98, Singh was Union minister of state for food and consumer affairs (Independent charge) before his re-election to the 12th Lok Sabha for the second term in 1998.

Paty Ripple Kyndiah: For Kyndiah, who made a hat-trick from Shillong Lok Sabha constituency this time, the journey had begun in 1962, when he first became municipal ward commissioner -- much before the creation of Meghalaya as a state.

He was re-elected and became chairman of the civic body in 1967, an office he held till 1972. After that he never looked back.

A protagonist of the hill state movement, which spearheaded a peaceful agitation for a state for Meghalaya to be carved out from Assam, Kyndiah entered the Provisional Meghalaya Assembly in 1970. From 1972 to 1993, he was a member of House.

He served as a state cabinet minister on several occasions between 1975 and 1988 and was leader of the Opposition from 1979 to 1981.

Associated with Indian National Congress, he played an active role in the freedom struggle and was one of the few leaders who did not change his political affiliations. He was acting chief minister in 1987 and chairman of the high-powered Meghalaya Commission on Resource Mobilisation in 1988-89 before getting elected to the Speaker's chair.

He also served as Mizoram governor from 1993 to 1998. A die-hard politician, Kyndiah did not confine himself to the constitutional post and quit it to plunge into active politics.

A Raja: The 40-year-old family welfare minister in the previous Vajpayee government, he had come out successful from Perambalur constituency. He holds degrees in BSc and ML. Raja made his electoral debut for the Lok Sabha poll in 1996 and defeated a Congress candidate. In 1998, he lost to the AIADMK but came back strongly a year later in the 1999 poll, winning the seat with a good majority.

Raja has been active in the Dravidian movement from his school days and later became a member of the DMK and held various positions in the party at the district level.

R Anbumani: A doctor, R Anbumani, who was appointed a Cabinet minister in the Manmohan Singh-led government. He is a debutant in the legislative field though his Pattali Makkal Katchi is a key ally of the Congress. Though Anbumani, 36, son of PMK chief S Ramadoss, is not a member of either House of Parliament, he is likely to be elected to the Rajya Sabha next month.

An MBBS, Anbumani is closely associated with his father in party functions and is organizing secretary of the party in Tamil Nadu. He studied Economics at the London School of Economics. He also heads the Pasumai Thayagam, a movement for the protection of greenery and environment.

Mahabir Prasad: A veteran Congress leader and former minister of state under P V Narasimha Rao, Prasad staged a comeback after a long gap. Elected from Bansgaon, he was All India Congress Committee general secretary and also headed the Congress in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. He had served as Haryana governor.

Mani Shankar Aiyar: From the Indian Foreign Service to Cabinet minister has been a long journey for this effervescent Congressman from Tamil Nadu. The 63-year-old former bureaucrat had served under the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He took premature retirement from service to become a special assistant to Gandhi. Born in Lahore, he was educated in Delhi at St Stephen's College and went on to Cambridge.

K Chandrasekhar Rao: The architect of renewed movement for a Telangana state, Rao was the pick of the recent election in Andhra Pradesh, steering his fledgling Telengana Rashtra Samithi to a stunning victory and emerging as a formidable political force.

Rao, a one-time comrade-in-arms and now a bitter critic of Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, founded the Telangana Rashtra Samiti two years ago to fight for statehood and came out with flying colours in alliance with Congress.

With five Lok Sabha and 26 Assembly seats in his kitty, Rao has emerged as a key player at the Centre and the State and is set to leverage this strength to pursue his goal of Telangana. A five-time legislator, Rao made his Lok Sabha debut when he humbled senior BJP leader and a minister in the NDA government Ch Vidyasagar Rao in Karimnagar. Reviving the movement for Telangana after over three decades, 51-year-old Rao quit the deputy speaker's post and TDP to chart a new political course that saw him join hands with the main Opposition Congress to defeat the TDP.


Brief portraits of those inducted as ministers of state in the Union Council of Ministers:

Kapil Sibal (Independent Charge): The senior advocate and Congress spokesman might not have been a minister in the Union Cabinet had he not listened to a call from his 'heart' in 1972 to refuse to join the civil services. Tipped to become law minister, Sibal refused to join the civil services and proceeded to Havard Law School to do his Masters in Law and there had been no looking back for him as he has earned the reputation of being one of the most intelligent and crafty lawyers in the country.

Armed with a long list of success stories in important cases before the Supreme Court, including the Best Bakery case, the 56-year-old constitutional expert has no regrets for not choosing the career of a bureaucrat.
"I could not have worked as a bureaucrat as I am very independent in my working. I never wanted to be in the civil services as I cannot function in a controlled atmosphere," said Sibal, whose elder brother Kanwal Sibal recently retired as foreign secretary.

He holds the record of being the only lawyer to argue before a joint sitting of Parliament where he defended Justice V Ramaswami, facing an impeachment motion.

Was winning the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat defeating television star Smriti Irani one of his biggest achievements, especially after he had lost to Sushma Swaraj in 1996 from South Delhi? No, was the firm answer from the veteran lawyer. "The single most satisfying thing in life is that my father is genuinely proud of me," said Sibal, who says he has no regrets in life.

Jagdish Tytler (Independent Charge): A member of the Sanjay Gandhi brigade, he has staged a splendid comeback by finding a berth in the Cabinet. The veteran 66-year-old Congress leader of Delhi puts behind him accusations of involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in which he was absolved by a court recently, and returns to the Cabinet after eight years. Born on December 1, 1942, at Dajal in Dera Ghaji Khan in Pakistan, Tytler began his career as a Commerce professor before shifting to Delhi politics and became a confidant of Sanjay Gandhi. Tytler handled several ministries such as Civil Aviation, Surface Transport, Coal, Food Processing and Labour. During his period as Union minister under the Congress government of P V Narasimha Rao, there were allegations of corruption leveled against him in the Mumbai Port Trust case, but a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then.

Oscar Fernandes: AICC General Secretary and a veteran Congress leader, he is known as a troubleshooter. A five-term Lok Sabha MP from Udupi parliamentary constituency in Karnatka, Fernandes was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress after he lost the 1999 election. Fernandes' Rajya Sabha term ended on May 2.
The son of a school teacher, Fernandes, who was Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President for two terms, is popular among partymen.

Praful Manoharbhai Patel: A trusted lieutenant of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel is a Rajya Sabha Member and Nationalist Congress Party spokesman. An industrialist, Patel is a partner of the Chhotabhai Jethabai Patel Company in his hometown Gondia, which manufactures bidis.

Patel, 47 started his political career as president of the Gondia Municipal Council. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996 and 1998. He had lost the last two Lok Sabha elections in Eastern Vidarbha, Maharashtra. After losing 1999 election, he entered the Rajya Sabha in 2000. Patel is the president of the Western Indian Football Association, an apex soccer body in Maharashtra, and is involved in the All India Football Federation, Cricket Club of India, National Sports Club of India, Mumbai and Cricket Association, Mumbai.
As chairman of the Gondia Education Society, he manages 25 colleges, academic and professional, including engineering and 50 schools.

Prem Chand Gupta: The Corporate face of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Gupta makes his debut in the Union Council. A Rajya Sabha member, Gupta has a knack in finance, commerce, industry and communications and has taken an active part in parliamentary debates on issues related to these ministries.

Born on February 3, 1950, he is a graduate in Economics. As an industrialist, he promoted a group of companies engaged in the manufacture and export of precision engineering products and commodities. He is engaged in the promotion of education, social work and cultural development and committed to social development and uplift of backward classes.
He has also undergone training as a pilot. A confidant of RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, Gupta is a national general secretary of the party.

Santosh Mohan Deb (Independent Charge): A veteran parliamentarian, this 70-year-old Congress leader from Assam is known for his efficiency and quick decision-making as was seen during his earlier stints as minister in the Congress governments.
The pipe-smoking Dev began public life as chairman of the municipal board of his home town of Silchar from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980.
He retained the seat till 1996.

Vilas Baburao Muttemwar (Independent Charge): Journalist- turned-politician, Muttemwar brings his experience as minister of state for rural development and employment and parliamentary affairs under P V Narasimha Rao. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and headed the Maharasthra Youth Congress from 1981 to 1984. He became joint secretary of the AICC in 1985 for a three-year term.

Selja (Independent Charge): Getting elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time at the age of 28 years in 1991 and having been a minister of state under Narasimha Rao, she has experience that should stand her in good stead in her second term.
The daughter of the late Congress leader Dalbir Singh who had represented Sirsa in Haryana, Rajiv Gandhi inducted her into politics.

Renuka Choudhary: A firebrand Congress leader known more for her brawls with political rivals and aggressive campaign style, she started her political career in the Telugu Desam Party in 1984 with a dramatic flourish. Choudhary, then a young housewife and a fan of N T Rama Rao, shot into the limelight when she participated in the agitation that broke out following the unseating of actor-turned-politician by his deputy N Bhaskar Rao in August 1984.

Starting her career as a corporator in the Banjara Hills division, Choudhary, a polyglot, earned instant recognition in the TDP when she was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986 and served the Upper House for two terms till 1998.

She was expelled from the TDP in 1994 for indulging in 'anti-party activities' and criticising NTR's second wife Lakshmi Parvathi's loyalists in the NTR cabinet.

Even after being expelled from the party, she continued to be in the Rajya Sabha as a TDP-II representative. She served as Union health minister in the United Front government in 1997-98.

Subodh Kant Sahay: As minister of state for home in the Chandrashekhar government, Sahay played a key role in the negotiations to solve the Ayodhya issue during that government's tenure. The media savvy Sahay had also held the Information and Broadcasting portfolio. The leader from Jharkhand joined the Congress recently.

Suresh Pachouri: The 52-year-old engineer from Madhya Pradesh has been associated with the Congress since 1972, when he was a Youth Congress member. Besides having been a member of various parliamentary committees, he was also minister of state for defence production and supplies in 1995-96.

K H Muniyappa: Elected from Kolar (reserved) constituency, this 56-year-old from Karnataka has become a member of the Lok Sabha for the fifth term. Muniyappa started his political career as vice-president of the taluk development board of Sidlaghatta during 1978-83 and was a practising advocate from 1986-91.

He is among the eight members from Karnataka who won despite the strong anti-Congress wave that swept the state this time.

R Velu: A first-timer in Parliament, R Velu of the PMK, a retired IAS officer, served in various capacities in Tamil Nadu. Velu, 63, had most of his stint in the cooperative sector during which he strove to strengthen the cooperative movement in the state in various fields.

K Rehaman Khan: A senior Congress leader, he is a two-term Rajya Sabha member elected from Karnataka. A chartered accountant-turned-politician, he is also an educationist. Khan, who began his political career as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, was also its chairman between 1978-1990.

Kanti Singh: For 47-year-old Kanti Singh, it is her second foray into the Union Council of Ministers. She was a minister of state for human resource development and was later given the Coal Ministry (Independent Charge) during the United Front Government.

Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav: 'Yes' man of RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, 45-year-old Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav has been a minister in the RJD-led Bihar government for 10 years. He has held the portfolios of Irrigation and Education. He was also president of the Yuva Janata Dal.

Akhilesh Singh: An educationist-turned-politician, he is a minister of state for health and family welfare in the Rabri Devi government in Bihar. Prior to joining politics he was a lecturer in the Magadh University in Bihar.

Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi: A multi-faceted personality, he is an engineer by profession and has a doctorate in Hydrogeology. He is a sports buff and has been a member of several parliamentary committees. An Aligarh Muslim University alumni, Fatmi was a general secretary of the Yuva Janata Dal.

Mohammad Taslimuddin: A trade unionist to the core, he joined active politics in 1957 through the Congress. Taslimuddin was a minister of state for home affairs in the United Front Government led by Deve Gowda for two months. He authored three books and led the literacy movement for the spread of education in Purnea district in Bihar.

T Palanimanickam: He has contested the Lok Sabha poll on seven occasions and won four times in a row from Thanjavur since 1996. He contested the 1984, 1989 and 1991 Lok Sabha poll but lost. He won in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Palanimanickam, 53, had his schooling and graduated in Thanjavur. He did his post-graduation and obtained his law degree from Chennai.

He has been an active member of the DMK from his youth and was a deputy secretary of the DMK's agriculture wing. He is a member of the party's legal wing.

K Venkatapathy: An advocate for about 35 years, he has won the Cuddulore Lok Sabha seat. Venkatapathy, 58, obtained degrees in BA and BL. He contested the state assembly polls in 1984 from Sankapuram constituency but lost. Since then he contested in 2004 and emerged victorious. He held various positions in the party at the district level and was a member of the MDMK for some time before returning to the parent organisation.

Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan: An active member of the DMK who won from Tiruchengode Lok Sabha constituency, she contested elections for the state legislature and Parliament since 1977. Jagadeesan, 56, a BSc BT, first won in the 1977 assembly poll, while she was in the AIADMK led by the late M G Ramachandran and was handloom minister in his cabinet.

In 1980, she joined the DMK. In 1989, she was social welfare minister in the Karunanidhi ministry. Between 2000 and 2002, she was deputy general secretary of the DMK. She was arrested under TADA and jailed for nine months. In 1992, she contested the Lok Sabha poll for the first time.

E Ahmed: An articulate champion of minority rights at the national level, 65-year-old Ahmed has established himself as an able parliamentarian during his long career as a Lok Sabha member and as an MLA before that.

All-India general secretary of Indian Union Muslim League, he has the distinction of being the lone United Democratic Front candidate to win the election from Kerala this time.

A staunch advocate of the Congress-IUML alliance, the lawyer-turned-politician had been returned to the Lok Sabha unfailingly since 1989 from Manjeri. This time he opted for the safer Ponnani seat. A member of Kerala Assembly from 1967 to 89, Ahmed served as industries minister in the K Karunakaran ministry in 1882-87.

Suryakanta Patil: A staunch Sharad Pawar loyalist, 66-year-old Suryakanta Patil has come a long way ever since she embarked on a political career beginning as a member of the Nanded Municipal Council in 1974. The daughter of a martyr in the Hyderabad freedom struggle, her foray into the hustle and bustle of politics was not unexpected. A graduate from Marathwada University, Suryakanta was elected to the state assembly from Hadgaon in 1980. It was due to her strong organisational and oratorial skills, she was elevated to national politics as a Rajya Sabha member in 1986. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991. She sided with Pawar when the Maratha strongman founded the NCP in 1999 and was made vice-president of the NCP's state unit. She is also the party national executive member since October 2000.

Bijoy Krishna Handique: Elected for the fifth time from Jorhat in Upper Assam, Handique belongs to one of the prestigious families of the state. He was elected to the Assam assembly in 1972 from Jorhat and then to the Rajya Sabha in 1980.

Dr Shakeel Ahmed: The Bihar minister for health and education trounced bjp nominee and Union minister Hukumdeo Narain Yadav in the election. Ahmed, an MBBS, comes from an illustrious family of freedom fighters of Bihar's Madhubani district. His grandfather and father were veteran freedom fighters and senior Congress leaders.

M V Rajasekharan: A veteran Congress leader who belongs to the moderate school of thought has been in the party for more than five decades. Rajasekharan, son-in-law of former AICC president and Karnataka chief minister S Nijalingappa, has a penchant for rural development and has been associated with several non-governmental organizations working in this field. The 75-year-old leader made an impact on the national and state political scene having served as a member of the Lok Sabha from 1967-71, MLA from 1978-82, as a member of the Karnataka legislative council and as a Rajya Sabha member.

E V K S Elangovan: A former Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president, he contested from Gobichettipalayam for the second time. The son of former DMK leader E V K Sampath and Sulochana Sampath (now a prominent leader in the AIADMK), Elangovan was a former legislator. From 1978 to 1998, he held various posts in the state unit of the Congress party and from 1984 to 1989, he represented the Sathyamangalam assembly seat. He became state unit president of the Congress party in mid-2000 and held that post for nearly 18 months. He played an important role in cementing the Congress-DMK alliance now.

A Raghupathy: A former AIADMK minister, 54-year-old Raghupathy was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time now from Puducottai. He joined the DMK in 2000. A law graduate, he practiced as a lawyer in Puducottai district court from 1974 to 1991. He entered politics in 1973 and served as party district secretary for Puducottai. In the 1991 assembly election, he contested from Tirumayam constituency and became a labour and housing minister in the J Jayalalithaa cabinet.

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