Guwahati: Considered as one of the front-ranking politicians of the Northeast, Arunachal West MP Kiren Rijiju took oath as a Union minister in the new council of ministers sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday evening.
On Friday, Rijiju was given the portfolio of a minister of state (independent charge) in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; and Ministry of Minority Affairs. The new appointment is a promotion from his stint as a junior minister in the ministry of home affairs in the previous PM Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
A lawyer by profession, Rijiju was born on November 19, 1971 at Nakhu near Nafra in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. Born to a leading family, his father, Rinchin Kharu himself was the first pro-term speaker of Arunachal Pradesh.
An active social worker since his school days, Rijiju led various social movements as a social worker and student leader. As a member of the youth and cultural team, he participated in the Festival of India in the then USSR in 1987. He has widely visited many countries across the world as a youth leader as well as member of various Parliamentary delegations. He was named the best athlete in his school and college days and participated in the National Games.
A graduate from Hansraj College, University of Delhi, the former Union minister of state for home also has a graduate degree in Law from the Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.
During the recently-declared Lok Sabha election results, Rijiju defeated his nearest rival, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Nabam Tuki, by a margin of 1,56,599 votes.
Rijiju is considered the face of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Northeast India. He served as a member of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission from 2000 to 2005 at a very young age of 29. He occasionally writes articles on security and socio-economic issues.
In the 2004 general election, he was elected as a member of the 14th Lok Sabha, representing the constituency of Arunachal West, which is the fourth largest Parliamentary constituency in India. Rijiju entered the Lok Sabha for the second time in 2014 from the same constituency.
During 2004-09, Kiren Rijiju was placed among the top five Opposition MPs reviewed by their peers in the treasury bench based on high benchmark in debates, discussions and decorum and was placed among stalwarts like LK Advani. He was also chosen as the best young MP by many national news agencies and magazines.
In 2009 general election, Rijiju was defeated by a very thin margin of 1,314 votes by the Congress candidate under very controversial circumstances which witnessed massive violence amidst allegation of polling booth capturing allegedly by Congress party.
In the 2014 Parliamentary election, Rijiju was again elected as a Member of Parliament in the 16th Lok Sabha, representing the Arunachal West constituency. Kiren Rijiju defeated Takam Sanjoy of the Congress party by a margin of 43,738 votes. Later, he became country’s minister of state for home affairs.
During the 2017 Rohingya refugee crisis, Rijiju attracted criticism by saying that “Rohingyas are illegal immigrants and stand to be deported”. He also stated that “India has absorbed maximum number of refugees in the world so nobody should give India any lessons on how to deal with refugees”.
On Thursday evening at Rashtrapati Bhavan, wearing an Arunachali waist jacket, Rijiju took his oath in Hindi.
On social media, apart from his political, social comments and activities, Rijiju’s tips related to health and exercise are very popular among the younger generation.