Ashwini Vaishnaw returns to Modi govt: A techie-turned-politician’s journey

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Ashwini Vaishnaw, who was known for his efforts for the railway sector reforms and establishment of the public-private partnership model in infrastructure projects, was inducted into the Union Cabinet again on Sunday.

The 53-year-old Rajya Sabha member from Odisha was appointed as deputy secretary in the office of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 when the BJP had an alliance with the BJD.

In July 2021, his induction to the Narendra Modi cabinet 2.0 was a surprise to many, and Vaishnaw, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, was entrusted with the responsibility for important portfolios like railways, communications and electronics and information technology.

He earned praise not only from the prime minister but also from his cabinet colleagues on many occasions.

During his tenure as an IAS officer, Vaishnaw served the people of Sundargarh, Balasore and Cuttack of Odisha and was lauded for his proactive measures during the ‘super cyclone’ that hit the eastern state in October-November in 1999.

During his brief stint in the PMO in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, his efforts to push for the public-private partnership model in infrastructure projects were appreciated.

Later, Vaishnaw, a native of Rajasthan, was appointed as Vajpayee’s private secretary after the BJP-led NDA lost the elections in 2004.

The BJP leader, an alumnus of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was first elected to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha in 2019 and renominated unopposed to the Upper House of Parliament in February this year with active support from Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

After quitting the government jobs, he joined the private sector and worked in Gujarat during which he is believed to have drawn the attention of Modi, who was then the chief minister of the western state.

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