NEW DELHI: 17 new faces including BJP leaders S S Ahluwalia, and M J Akbar and allies Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal and Ramdas Athawale of RPI were today inducted along with two old hands Vijay Goel and Faggan Kulaste into the Modi government in expansion and reshuffle in which five were dropped and Environment Minister Prakash Javedekar was elevated to the Cabinet.
The second exercise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in little more than two years since he took over in May 2014 saw a number a dalit and OBC leaders being given ministerial positions done apparently with an eye on assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand next year and Gujarat later.
Meghwal was born into family of weavers in Kishmidesar village of Bikaner district. He began his career as a telephone operator while pursuing his LLB and got into the Rajasthan Civil Services after two failed attempts.
A two-time MP, the 61-year-old was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 from Bikaner constituency which was earlier represented by Bollywood star Dharmendra.
Known for his active participation in Lok Sabha debates on a variety of issues, Meghwal had recently attacked the judiciary for its "extra constitutional" activism. The dalit leader had demanded that "running commentary" by judges should end.
Easily identified by his green and saffron turban, Meghwal has of late started using a bicycle to commute to Parliament during sessions. This, he says, saves fuel, protects environment and keeps him fit. He often sings bhajans in the morning which he says keep him mentally alert.
As an MP, he has been a member of various parliamentary Committees including on defence, science and technology, environment and forest, personnel, public grievances and law and justice.
Meghwal has participated in many programmes for development of Rajasthani language and its inclusion in 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
From ploughing the fields to being an advocate and a lawmaker, P P Chaudhary, who cut his teeth in the RSS, has been catapulted to the centrestage of politics with his induction in the Union Council of Ministers.
Born in a poor farmer family, 62-year-old Chaudhary joined the RSS when he was eight years old as a 'Bal Swayamsevak' in 1961. Hailing from Bhavi in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, Chaudhary worked hard to study law and went on to become a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.
He was given a ticket by the BJP from Pali in Rajasthan and won the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Specialising in constitutional matters, he claims to have argued nearly 11,000 cases in his long professional career of almost four decades. He was also standing counsel of the Central Government in 1990.
He has also handled cases relating to farmers and those relating to land acquisition, as well as public interest litigations. He also fought cases relating to para-teachers in Rajasthan up to the Supreme Court and the Vasundhara Raje government gave them jobs after coming to power.
He was part of the Joint Committee of Parliament that looked into the contentious Land Acquisition bill brought in by NDA and later abandoned it.
He has been active as a social worker and has worked to uplift the educational status of children, especially girls, in rural areas.
Chaudhary also worked actively for the cause of farmers in Rajasthan and took initiatives like irrigation projects organic farming.
He has been elected for three years as Member of the International Executive Committee, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, London, UK, where he effectively put forward the Indian view point on Jammu and Kashmir.
Tamta, who would turn 44 on July 16, cut his teeth in politics as a member of district panchayat in his home state Uttarakhand and rose to become its vice president.
The induction of the dalit leader from Almora comes at a time when BJP is promoting leaders of the dalit and backward communities in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where assembly polls are due early next year.
A first-term member of the Lok Sabha, Tamta is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) as also of the Consultative Committee in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. He was earlier a member of the Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
He had contested state assembly polls in 2002 as an independent but lost. Tamta tried his luck at the hustings again in 2007 and won on BJP ticket.
He is one of the BJP's Brahmin faces in Uttar Pradesh, where it is going the whole hog to win after being out of power for a decade-and-a-half.
Pandey, a first-time Lok Sabha member, is an MP from Chandauli bordering Bihar.
Pandey's induction in the Union government is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the significantly large Brahmin vote bank in the state. The Brahmins, who were traditionally Congress supporters, had been siding with BJP in the post-Mandal era. However, a large chunk of them later also voted for Mayawati's BSP.
The 58-year-old leader is a two-time MLA and was elected to the UP Legislative Assembly in 1991 and 1996. He was the secretary of the BJP legislature party.
In 1997, Pandey became Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development and was the MoS Planning (Independent charge) between 1998 and 2000. He was also the MoS Panchayati Raj in UP between 2000 and 2002.
He has a Masters in Journalism and PhD (Hindi) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
Pandey is currently a member of the Business Advisory Committee and the Committee of Parliament on Official Language.
In the past, he was a member of the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Consultative Committee, Ministry of Steel and Mines.
Gohain, 65, who was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1999 from Nagaon, is a law graduate and was actively involved in the six-year-long Assam agitation against illegal immigrants in early 1980s.
He belongs to the Ahom community like former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his induction into the Modi Ministry could be an attempt by the BJP to penetrate into this community, traditionally known as Congress supporters.
Despite Nagaon being a minority dominated constituency, Gohain was elected to the Lower House for four consecutive term.
"I will try my level best to serve the people of Assam. I request the people of Assam to be with me in this journey," Gohain said.
He has been a leading figure in Assam to fight for the cause of small tea garden owners, who often allege discrimination by big tea companies.
A state-level hockey player in his school days, Gohain was also a long-distance runner.
He is Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes.
She is a first time BJP MP and one of the party's Dalit faces from Uttar Pradesh.
The 49-year-old had been a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1996 and 2007 from Mohamadi.
She was elected in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Shahjahanpur seat. A post-graduate, she is active in the Lok Sabha and has participated in 50 debates on a variety of issues, including on water preservation, safety of women and Supreme Court's decision on ban of diesel taxis in Delhi.
She belongs to the Rohilkhand region of the state and her inclusion in the expanded NDA ministry will give more teeth to the saffron party among Scheduled Caste Pasi electorate.
Raj has been an active member of the Committee on Petitions, Standing Committee on Energy, Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation.
She was also a member of Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, besides being a member of the Committee on Public Undertakings.
An oncologist and a first-time MP, Subhash Bhamre's induction into the Union Ministry is being seen as the Modi government's attempt to compensate Maharashtra for the exit of Raosaheb Danve, who resigned after being appointed the president of BJP's state unit.
It is also an effort to humour BJP supporters in Jalgaon-Dhule belt, who are apparently unahppy over the exit of party heavyweight Eknath Khadse from the Devendra Fadnavis Ministry in the wake of accusations of wrongdoing in purchase of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation land.
Bhamre, born on September 11, 1953, defeated Amrish Patel of Congress to enter the Lok Sabha in 2014 elections from the Dhule constituency, bordering Gujarat. His constituency adjoins Jalgoan, the home turf of Khadse.
He has been offering free treatment to cancer patients. He has conducted free multiple medical camps and surgeries. He organised public education speeches for cancer awareness and its early detection and prevention.
Bhamre is also known for visiting houses of financially weak cancer patients, who couldn't afford to visit hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
The 63-year-old BJP MP is a Member of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare and also a Member of the Consultative Committee, Ministry of Railways. He is also member of the Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes.
Bhamre was among the 'non-political' personalities fielded by BJP in 2014 elections and registered a convincing victory over Patel as the Modi wave swept the constituency.
During his college days, Bhamre was the vice captain of Mumbai University's chess and basket ball teams.
A grassroots political worker, he is a known Modi-loyalist and belongs to Kadva Patidar community in Gujarat.
A two-term Rajya Sabha MP, the Patel leader is a science graduate whe began his career as a school teacher in Gujarat and became principal of two schools and the chief officer of a civic body before joining politics.
His interest in politics began when he was chief officer of the Amreli civic body from November 1983 to March 1987.
He quit his job in Amreli Municipality and joined BJP. Rising steadily through the ranks, Rupala became BJP state secretary and went on to serve as a minister when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister.
A pro-Hindutva leader, 61-year-old Rupala was among those who offered kar seva in 1989 at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. He also participated in BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi's Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar's Lal Chowk in 1991-92.
Rupala is a former president of BJP's Gujarat unit and ex-chairman of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).
He was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 2008 and then again in June 2016 and is known for his high-decibel interventions in the Upper House.
He was a staunch opponent of former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel which made him drift naturally towards the other faction of Gujarat BJP led by Narendra Modi, when Keshubhai was the CM between 1998 and 2001.
His induction in Union Council of Ministers comes at a time when the state BJP is facing agitation by the Patel community for reservation.
A good orator, Rupala became a minister when BJP came to power in the state in 1995.
He was elected as MLA thrice and held various positions in the state government. However, when Keshubhai Patel became the chief minister in 1998, he was not made a minister in Gujarat government.
When Modi took over from Keshubhai in 2001, Rupala was reinstated as minister in his council. Later, he was given responsibility as the chief of Gujarat BJP in 2006.
Rupala was also elected to Rajya Sabha from 2008 to 2014. He again got elected to the Upper House of Parliament during the elections held recently.
He also held the position of national vice-president of the party in 2010 and was in-charge of states like Andhra Pradesh and Goa in the recent past.
Before entering into politics in mid 90s, Bhabhor served as a teacher in government school. His father Sumanbhai Bhabhor was also in BJP but could not win any Assembly poll.
Born in August 1966, Bhabhor became an MLA for the first time in 1995.
Between 1995 and 2012, he won five Assembly elections from Limkheda seat of Dahod. In 2014, he snatched the Dahod Lok Sabha seat from Congress by defeating sitting Congress MP Prabha Taviyad, who had won with a huge margin in 2009.
Bhabhor served as deputy minister of Food & Civil Supply between 1999 and 2001 in Gujarat government. In the subsequent BJP-led governments here, he served as minister of state for health and family welfare, forests and environment tribal development, rural development, panchayats and labour and employment during different periods till 2012.
Bhabhor developed a good rapport with top brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
He is considered as a low-profile leader, who is known for remaining in touch with grassroot workers. Instead of organising major functions, Bhabhor prefers to have an informal chat with party workers and villagers.
He is generally considered as an accessible leader and hardly misses any family function of his party workers, a trait which has made him popular not just among the workers, but also among the masses.
The 44-year-old is apparently being groomed by the BJP as the "next generation leader" from the Patel community in Gujarat.
He was a student leader of ABVP and was elected as an MLA in the Gujarat Assembly in 2002.
In 2012, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, where he had been member of Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, National Welfare Board for Seafarers and also Member of a Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers.
From May 2015 onwards, he was Member, Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013.
He has also served as a spokesperson of Gujarat BJP and is a party state executive member.
He is also an honrary Chairman of Veer Teja Mahila Shiksahn and Shodh Sansthan Marwar-Mundwa in Nagaur.