New Delhi, Jul 5: M J Akbar’s debut as a minister caps a remarkable political turnaround for the journalist and author who made a dashing foray into politics as a Congress MP in 1989, thanks to his proximity to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, before a long spell in wilderness. 65-year-old Akbar, who was recently elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, is seen as an articulate and modern Muslim voice in BJP who can also be trusted to defend it at times on the strident Hindutva pitch with his eloquent evocation of Modi’s developmental agenda.(Also Read: Cabinet reshuffle 2016: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to drop 6 ministers from his cabinet, 19 to be inducted)Also Read - Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai’s Cabinet to Have 26 New Ministers; Oath-taking Likely At 5 PM Today

A party spokesperson, he has often spoken on the government’s foreign policies. An eminent editor and author of several well-received books, including a biography of Jawaharlal Nehru, he debuted in politics in 80s as he came close to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and wielded considerable influence. He contested Lok Sabha election in 1989 from Kishanganj in Bihar and won but Congress lost badly. He drifted apart from the party after Gandhi’s death in 1991 and he soon returned to full time journalism. Also Read - Assam-Mizoram Border Row: PM Narendra Modi to Meet Assam MPs over Border Dispute

Though he was critical of Modi, the then Gujarat Chief Minister, following 2002 riots, he gradually came closer to the saffron party as he assailed the Gandhi family over its leadership of Congress. BJP expects that Akbar will provide it what the party has often lacked — an eloquent English-speaking Muslim voice. Also Read - PM Narendra Modi to Launch e-RUPI on August 2: Know All About The New Digital Payment Platform