Congress' Rajya Sabha member Ashwani Kumar, who was on Wednesday inducted into the union council of ministers as a minister of state, is a lawyer who has held serval organisational responsibilities. He was a minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Kumar, 58, who is from Punjab, served as minister of state in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the previous UPA government. In the first major overhaul of the UPA II government, he has been inducted as minister of state for planning and parliamentary affairs, and science and technology and earth sciences.
Born in 1952, Kumar is the son of freedom fighter and former speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the late Prabodh Chandra. He graduated from St Stephens College, Delhi, and studied law at the university of Delhi. Kumar holds a doctorate in law from the Panjab University and an M Phil in international law, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Kumar served as additional solicitor general of India in 1991.
He was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2002, and has served as spokesperson of the Congress and chairperson of its Vichar Vibhag (intellectual cell).
Congress sources said that Kumar enjoys confidence of both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi.
With his induction, there are now three ministers from Punjab in the council of ministers. Besides Kumar, the other two are Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni and M S Gill, who has now been given portfolio statistics and programme implementation.
All the three ministers are from the Rajya Sabha.