Chandigarh: With the induction on Sunday of Haryana leader Birender Singh as a minister in the Narendra Modi government, the state where BJP recently won in Assembly polls for the first time now has five representatives in the Union Cabinet.
A former Congress leader, Birender had missed the bus for becoming the Haryana chief minister when the the party handed over the reins to Bhupinder Singh Hooda after its win in the 2005 Assembly polls in the state.
Birender was also in the news when he was denied -- allegedly at the behest of Hooda -- a Cabinet berth in the last ministerial expansion carried out by the previous Manmohan Singh government.
Birender was born in the nondescript Dumerkha village in the Jat heartland of Jind district on March 25, 1946. He is the grandson of peasant leader Sir Chhotu Ram. His father Neki Ram was a politician in unified Punjab.
Birender was for long an aspirant for the post of the Haryana chief minister.
But with those hopes not materialising under Congress, a party with which he was associated for over 42 years, Birender joined BJP in August, 2014, at a political rally at Jind in the presence of the party's president, Amit Shah. Birender entered the BJP fold after tendering his resignation from Rajya Sabha.
Haryana has three Union Ministers of State in the Narendra Modi government -- Krishan Pal Gujjar, Rao Inderjit Singh and Gen. (retd) VK Singh -- while Birender, who was inducted as a Cabinet minister, shares that status with Sushma Swaraj, the Foreign Minister who, too, hails from Haryana.
Birender has been a five-time legislator from Haryana's Uchana constituency (1977?82, 1982?84, 1994?96, 1996-2000 and 2005?09) and served three terms a state Cabinet minister.
He has been a parliamentarian for two terms -- in 1984, he was elected as the MP from Hisar constituency after defeating former chief minister and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supremo Om Prakash Chautala by a handsome margin.
In 2010, Birender was elected as a Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana for a six-year term (2010?16) before his resignation from the Upper House.
On the political front, Birender has been entrusted with many key responsibilities. He was made the chief of HPCC in 1990 and led Congress to a landslide victory there in 1991.
In 2014, he was made the general secretary of AICC and the in-charge of the poll-bound states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi, leading the party to victory in the first two of them.
Birender is a graduate of the Government College, Rohtak, and completed his law degree from Panjab University at Chandigarh.
He has opened institutions for higher and technical education in the state and is the founder of the Birender Singh College of Nursing in Uchana and Jind and the Bangar Education Trust, Haryana. He was a member of Haryana Harijan Sewak Sangh from 1974-77.
Singh contested his first election in 1972 and from 1972? 77, he was the Chairman of the Uchana Block Samiti. He contested the Assembly election in 1977 from Uchana on a Congress ticket and won by an impressive margin despite a strong anti-Congress wave in the country. That win made him a star overnight in Indian politics.
Birender's wife Prem Lata, contesting on a BJP ticket, had defeated INLD's young turk, Dushyant Chautala, in Uchhana Kalan, a traditional bastion of the Chautalas'.