A number of BJP leaders have made a comeback of sorts with their induction in the second Modi government after spending years out of political limelight.
Arjun Munda and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, both former chief ministers, have bagged Cabinet berths, while party’s senior parliamentarians and former Union ministers, Prahlad Singh Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste, have also been entrusted with ministerial responsibilities after years in hibernation.
A five-term MP, Patel was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but was overlooked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first term, while Kulaste, a six-term MP, was dropped.
The most remarkable rise has been of Munda, who was Jharkhand chief minister three times with his last term during 2010-13, and Pokhriyal, who was unceremoniously removed as Uttarakhand chief minister in 2011. Both were not members of the first Modi government.
A tribal leader, Munda appeared to have drifted into the party’s margins after he lost the assembly poll in Jharkhand in 2014.
The BJP then opted for Raghubar Das as the state’s chief minister.
Munda, 51, scraped through from Khunti Lok Sabha seat this time by a margin of just over 1,000 votes.
With the state assembly election due later this year, the BJP hopes to win over the numerically strong Scheduled Tribes population by rewarding him with the portfolio of tribal welfare.
Pokhriyal, who was replaced by B C Khanduri as CM following a number of allegations, was kept out of the state politics by the BJP, which fielded him in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
He won but did not get a ministerial berth and was not considered for the top job in the state after the BJP returned to power with a huge win in 2017 assembly polls.
Now, he has been given the key HRD portfolio at the Centre, an indication that the party will want Pokhriyal- a champion of ancient Indian practices including astrology and traditional medicine- to push its education agenda.
The BJP seems to have brought in Patel, an MP from Madhya Pradesh, to fill in for Uma Bharti, both of whom come from the backward Lodh caste.
He was a minister in the Vajpayee government but lost clout after he followed Bharti, who broke away from the BJP and formed her own party in 2006.
Patel, considered a grassroots leader, rejoined the BJP like his mentor but had to wait for almost a decade to make a comeback to the central government.
He has been given independent charge of important portfolios like culture and tourism.
Kulaste, a tribal leader from Madhya Pradesh, was inducted by Modi in his first government but was later dropped.
Similar was the fate of Sanjeev Balyan, a Jat leader from Uttar Pradesh. He defeated RLD chief and former Union minister Ajit Singh this time.
Both Kulaste and Balyan are back in favour and have been made ministers of state.