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Jharkhand’s smiling MP in M-Team

Ranchi, May 26: A few months older than Rahul Gandhi, Sudarshan Bhagat (44), BJP MP from Lohardaga, is Jharkhand’s only leader to make it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet as minister of state.

The son of a tribal teacher, Bhagat was born on October 20, 1969, in Gumla. An alumnus of Kartik Oraon College in Gumla, he was associated with the right-wing students’ outfit Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and then joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Bhagat, who enjoys a good rapport with the RSS, became MP from Lohardaga in 2009 and retained the seat in 2014. This is the first time he has landed a Union minister’s job.

Known to be a “humble and cultured” man, his pleasant, “smiling” nature makes him get along with everyone. It contributed in no small measure to his rise in party ranks.

“No one has ever seen him lose his cool. He is young, popular, a two-time MP from the grassroots and close to the RSS. Together, these factors clinched his berth in the Modi ministry. It augurs well for Jharkhand,” said a BJP insider.

Not yet 30, Bhagat was elected to Bihar Vidhan Sabha from Gumla seat in 2000. After Jharkhand became a separate state on November 15, 2000, Bhagat went on to become a minister of state (human resources) in the Babulal Marandi government of the BJP.

When BJP’s Arjun Munda became chief minister in March 2003, Bhagat became a minister of state (independent charge) in the CM’s secretariat and then welfare minister.

“Apparently, Munda found it difficult to allot Bhagat a suitable portfolio, but was forced to take him in his own secretariat on RSS orders,” said a senior BJP leader.

Munda, however, stressed he enjoyed working with Bhagat. “He neither exceeded his limits nor forcibly imposed his views. He never complained against erring officials. His induction to the Union cabinet is Jharkhand’s honour,” the former chief minister said.

“He’s a very sober and well-behaved man. My best wishes are with him,” said former Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh and BJP veteran.

A family man who frequently refers to values learnt from parents Kalsai Bhagat and Manna Devi in remote Tangardih village of Gumla, Bhagat married Krishna Toppo on April 26, 2001. The couple has two sons Deodarshan (10) and Chaitanya (8), who study in Sarla Birla Public School, Ranchi.

Bhagat enjoys reading books on history and philosophy. He loves football, yoga, classical music and visiting places of historic importance.

“There’s no change in the man who’s become an MLA, an MP and now a Union minister,” said state unit BJP general secretary Ganesh Mishra on Bhagat’s spectacular journey from Tangardih to Delhi.