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Closeness to RSS lands Bhagat in Modi cabinet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preference for Lohardaga MP Sudarshan Bhagat in his ministry among the 12 MPs from the saffron party who won the Lok Sabha elections from Jharkhand has become a talking point.
By Gautam Mazumdar | None, Ranchi
UPDATED ON SEP 25, 2014 05:34 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preference for Lohardaga MP Sudarshan Bhagat in his ministry among the 12 MPs from the saffron party who won the Lok Sabha elections from Jharkhand has become a talking point.

Ironically, Bhagat’s candidature was not certain when the BJP was announcing the candidates’ names for the 2014 general elections. The sitting Lohardaga MP had to wait with bated breath and was re-nominated after much delay.

Locked in a triangular contest — BJP-Congress-Trinamool — it was a tough contest for him. It was neck and neck with the Congress. Finally, Bhagat was re-elected from the seat by a margin of 6,489 votes, defeating former Union minister Rameshwar Oraon of the Congress.

Bhagat’s victory margin came down by about 8,000 votes as compared to 2009 poll performance. But, his luck overpowered everything else. He surpassed others on the preference graph and was inducted as minister. Yashwant Sinha was the last Union minister of the NDA government from Jharkhand. The BJP fielded his son Jayant Sinha from Hazaribag and won the seat.

The second-time MP has several factors in his favour. The most important factor is his closeness to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) top bosses, apart from being from a tribal background. He is a grade-3 qualifier of the RSS.

With an uncontroversial political background and clean image, Bhagat has ministerial experience too — only four other BJP MPs from Jharkhand have ministerial experience. Moreover, only three BJP MPs are veteran to him 1 Karia Munda (eight terms), Ravindra Pandey (five terms) and Ram Tahal Choudhary (three terms). However, only Karia’s name was in the circulation. It is learnt that Karia, the former deputy speaker of the 15th Lok Sabha, has been considered for the Speaker’s post.

A soft spoken leader, Bhagat is an agriculturist and social worker. His political career began during his college days in Gumla. He became an active ABVP worker in the nineties.

He was made ABVP state joint secretary in undivided Bihar. He was also active with Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, a frontal organisation of the RSS, and joined active politics in the year 1995. Bhagat became a BJP legislator in 2000 and was inducted in the Babulal Marandi government when Jharkhand state was crated. He was shifted to the chief minister’s office when Arjun Munda succeeded Marandi and was given the independent charge. In 2004, he was made welfare minister of the state.

The BJP leader was the former MP of the standing committee of labour as well as the former MP for consultative committee on tribal affairs.

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