MODI’s hand-picked three

Tulsi planted in Cabinet

New Delhi : From promoting beauty products, to contesting the Miss India beauty pageant, to becoming the country’s most sought after ‘bahu’, and now set to be sworn in as a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet – 38-year-old Smriti Irani’s life has been a saga of meteoric rise to fame and success.

A star in her own right, Smriti’s political journey started in 2003 when she joined the BJP which has just pulled off a landslide win in the 16th parliamentary election by winning 282 out of the 543 contested seats.

Although she couldn’t win when she contested the 14th Lok Sabha polls as the BJP candidate from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi – being defeated by Congress candidate Kapil Sibal – she became a prominent and articulate face of the party on television.

In the 2014 general election, the gutsy Smriti took on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in his pocket borough of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and gave him tough competition. Though she lost, the actress-turned-politician, who was sworn in as a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from Gujarat in 2011, is now set to bag an important ministry when Modi and his cabinet ministers take oath in the capital.

In her life, every decision she took turned into a stepping stone, taking her closer to stardom and politics.

Lady luck was smiling on her and she was called to replace actress Neelam Kothari to host an episode of “Ooh La La La”. She got that episode and was noticed by producer Ekta Kapoor, and the rest, as they say, is history. Ekta roped her in to play Tulsi in her long running super hit TV show “Kyunki… Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”.

Ananth Kumar: An astute politician

New Delhi : Born in Bangalore in July 1959, Ananth Kumar is a parliamentary veteran, having won from the prestigious Bangalore South constituency in Karnataka consecutively for six terms since 1996.

In the latest battle against Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Ananth Kumar, a civil aviation minister in the Vajpayee government, again emerged winner with a margin of over 228,000 votes.

Ananth Kumar’s moorings into politics were early. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in arts and then a law degree, he was an office bearer of the ABVP, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)

At 30, he was named the ABVP’s national secretary.  Within two years of his first entry into the Lok Sabha, he was appointed the civil aviation minister – and it is here that he made a mark.

He oversaw the framing of policy for the country’s first real public-private partnership in the civil aviation space, the Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore. The detailing of this project was considered so thorough that it became a model that was successfully replicated in more such projects across the country, notably in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee also entrusted him with other portfolios such as tourism, sports and youth affairs, culture, urban development and poverty alleviation during the six years his government was in office (1998-2004). Some of his notable contributions include the Bangalore metro project, the inclusion of the city in the Golden Quadrilateral highway network, setting up the Modern Art Gallery in the city etc.

The lawyer of ‘Ram Lalla’

New Delhi : A  prominent BJP leader from Bihar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, a strong and persuasive debater on television in defence of his party’s views, is popularly known as Lord Ram’s lawyer.  Coming from an eminent Kayastha family from Patna and a leading advocate, Ravi Shankar Prasad is the lawyer in the Ayodhya Ram temple title suit case.

He represents ‘Ram Lalla’, the deity, in the case.  Ravi Shankar Prasad’s father Thakur Prasad was one of the founders of the Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP.

Ravi Shankar Prasad was also the main lawyer arguing the PIL against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam that led to the jailing of several politicians and officials, including Lalu Prasad.

The lawyer-politician became a Rajya Sabha member in 2000 and was made the minister of state for coal and mines in 2001 in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He became the information and broadcasting minister in 2003.

A member of the BJP national executive since 1995, Ravi Shankar Prasad became a national spokesperson of the BJP in 2006.

In 2012, he was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar for a consecutive third term. He is married to Maya Shankar, a well known historian and professor of history at Patna University, and is the brother of Anuradha Prasad, who owns a TV channel and is married to Rajeev Shukla of the Congress party.

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