From Amit Shah to Sushma Swaraj, let’s take a closer look at eight powerful leaders who have ably assisted the prime minister in his endeavour
While there’s no doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is undoubtedly the face of and the driving force behind the BJP-led government at the Centre, the prime minister is ably assisted in his endeavours.
From Amit Shah to Sushma Swaraj, let’s take a closer look at eight of the prime minister’s most powerful men and women during his time in office:
Home Minister Amit Shah has for long been considered the prime minister’s right hand.
Modi and Shah rose through the ranks of the BJP and politics together. First at the state-level in Gujarat where Shah, who was home minister during Modi’s time as chief minister in 2002, held several important portfolios such as home, traffic, prohibition, parliamentary affairs, law and excise.
Then at the national level since 2014 when Shah was appointed BJP in-charge for the all-important state of Uttar Pradesh. Following the BJP’s historic victory and taking power at the Centre, Shah then became BJP national president.
The Modi-Shah combine has been successful both in front and behind the scenes, delivering win after win for the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and in several states and expanding the party’s footprint around the country.
Yogi Adityanath is a firebrand and controversial leader who was handpicked by Modi and the BJP as 22nd chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
Born on 5 June, 1972, as Ajay Singh in Uttarakhand’s Panchur, Adityanath is the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Math.
It is a position he has held since the death of his guru Mahant Avaidyanath Maharaj, a religious leader known for his involvement in the Babri Masjid demolition.
He has been the MP from Gorakhpur since 1998 and also founded the the Hindu Yuva Vahini in 2002.
With the BJP’s stunning performance in the 2019 Uttar Pradesh polls – chalked up to the double-engines of Modi at the Centre and Yogi at the state – there’s no limit to how far Adityanath could ascend up the political ladder.
In a political career spanning over 45 years, Rajnath Singh has seen it all.
In 2013, Singh, then the BJP national president, is said to have played a key role in getting Modi declared the party’s prime ministerial candidate over the objections of the old guard.
Before being sworn into the Modi Cabinet in 2019, Singh previously served as the Minister of Home Affairs of India. His website credits ‘a brush with the RSS’ in student life as the catalyist for joining politics in 1974.
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.
Famed for his administrative prowess, Nitin Gadkari is one of the most high-profile and high-performing ministers of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government.
Nitin Gadkari was the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping for the entire first term of the first Narendra Modi government. He also held the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolios since 3 September, 2017.
Gadkari has played a pivotal role in the Modi Cabinet: pushing infrastructure development and reviving long-pending projects.
Gadkari was born in a middle-class agricultural family in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city, which is also the headquarters of the RSS. Gadkari’s mother had a great influence on him and she inculcated in him the spirit of social work. He was also inspired in his early life by the RSS and its mission of nation-building.
Gadkari first entered politics as an ABVP student leader. He later joined the Janta Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing. He says he decided to decicate his life to social work rather than practising law after Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in June 1975.
Not just during the first term of Modi government, Gadkari had played a pivotal role in the successful implementation of the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the second straight term, he had a long innings in Maharashtra politics and was also the youngest BJP president.
Arguably the most high-profile woman in the Modi government, Nirmala Sitharaman has a habit of making history.
In 2019, Sitharaman became the second woman to take charge of the Ministry of Finance – former prime minister Indira Gandhi was the first – and holds the honour of being India’s second woman defence minister (the first to take charge of this full time).
She has served the Modi government in many roles: as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs under the Ministry of Finance and the Minister for Commerce and Industry with independent charge.
Sitharaman did her graduation from Seethalakshmi Ramasamy College, Tiruchirappalli in economics and obtained her Masters and MPhil in the subject from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
She worked in the Agricultural Engineers Association, UK in London, Senior Manager, Research and Analysis with PricewaterhouseCoopers, also in London and briefly with the BBC World Service.
Sushma Swaraj, who passed away in 2019 after a cardiac arrest, was universally respected and known for coming to the aid of Indians the world over.
The 67-year-old politico who served as external affairs minister in the first Modi government was given the moniker India’s ‘supermom’ by The Washington Post.
Swaraj, even more than Sitharaman, was a woman of many firsts during her glittering career : Youngest cabinet minister in the Haryana, first woman chief minster of Delhi (and the BJP), first woman spokesperson of a national party.
Swaraj, a law graduate who practiced in the Supreme Court, was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a member of various legislative Assemblies like Haryana and Delhi. Like so many others in the BJP, her political career began with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS.
A seasoned diplomat of much repute, S Jaishankar was sworn in as Cabinet minister in the second Modi ministry on 30 May, 2019.
Considered close to the prime minister, Jaishankar, a 1977-batch IFS officer, emerged as a surprise pick for the high-profile Ministry of External Affairs.
Known as a technocrat, Jaishankar was instrumental in negotiations leading to the signing of the nuclear agreement with the United States for civil nuclear cooperation and the conclusion of a new defence framework to guide security ties between the two countries.
He also deftly handled the Devyani Khobragade episode that threatened to almost derail the painstakingly constructed India-US strategic partnership.
S Jaishankar was born on 15 January, 1955, to the late K Subrahmanyam, one of India’s leading strategic analysts. A graduate of St Stephen’s College, Jaishankar has an MA in Political Science and an MPhil and PhD in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He is married to Kyoko Jaishankar and has two sons and a daughter.
A lawyer by profession, Arun Jaitley was a key member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet in the BJP government’s first term. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief trouble-shooter of the government.
A consensus builder, Jaitley was regarded by some as Narendra Modi’s original ‘Chanakya’, his chief trouble-shooter since 2002 when the Gujarat riots hung over the then chief minister like a dark cloud.
Not just Modi, he reportedly was also instrumental in bailing out Amit Shah during the time he was externed from Gujarat. Shah was often sighted in those days at Jaitley’s Kailash Colony office and the two would share meals several times a week.
Modi and Jaitley’s relations date back to 1970s when the former was an emerging young ABVP activist and Modi used to visit New Delhi for various RSS programmes, and also to appear for his graduation examination while he was pursuing his Bachelor’s degree as a private student.
When Arvind Kejriwal tried to build a controversy around Modi’s educational qualifications, Jaitley furiously defended the prime minister, saying that he was witness to the whole process: how Modi used to come to Delhi, stay in one corner of the old Jana Sangh office in old Delhi in order to appear for his exams. He went at length narrating anecdotes of yesteryears. People should actually admire Modi for his grit, his dedication to study further in most adverse circumstances.
In May 2019, Jaitley announced his decision not to seek a ministerial position in the second Modi government due to health reasons. The prime minister made a personal visit to Jaitley to enquire about his health.
In August of that year, Jaitley, who had been receiving treatment for multiple ailments at AIIMS New Delhi passed away at age 66.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid tribute to Jaitley’s contribution to the struggle against the Emergency and said Jaitley continued to raise his voice for the people and acted as a crusader against corruption.
Modi, addressing a rally of Indian diaspora in Bahrain, said:
#WATCH PM Modi while addressing the Indian community in Bahrain, reacts on the demise of #ArunJaitley: I can’t imagine that I am so far here while my friend has gone away. Some days ago, we lost our former External Affairs Minister Behen Sushma Ji. Today my friend Arun went away pic.twitter.com/NcMZ5dU069
— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
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