Virendra Kumar: Veteran LS member continues as Union social justice, empowerment minister

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Eight-time BJP MP Virendra Kumar will continue as the social justice and empowerment minister in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

Republican Party of India's Ramdas Athawale has also been retained as the minister of state (MoS) in the same ministry, while B L Verma is the new MoS in the ministry, according to an official statement.

Rising from a humble background and winning the Lok Sabha polls eight consecutive times since 1996 from Madhya Pradesh, Kumar had his big break in September 2017 when he was made the minister of state for women and child development in the first Modi government.

The main challenges ahead for him as the new social justice and empowerment minister include addressing caste discrimination, SC/ST and OBC scholarship issues, and matters related to transgender individuals and people with disabilities.

In a political career spanning decades, Kumar has been elected four times from Sagar and four times from Tikamgarh. He is currently the sitting MP from Tikamgarh.

Born on February 27, 1954, Kumar was first elected as an MP from Sagar in 1996 and subsequently won the seat in 1998, 1999 and 2004. He was elected from the Tikamgarh Lok Sabha seat in 2009, 2014, 2019 and 2024.

Kumar was chosen as the Protem Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha on June 17, 2019, and being the senior-most member of the Lok Sabha, he is likely to hold the post again.

Kumar completed his education at Dr Hari Singh Gour University, Sagar (now a central university), earning a post-graduate degree in economics. He was jailed for 16 months during the Emergency in 1975-77 and participated in the 'Sampoorna Kranti Andolan' led by Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan.

Rajya Sabha member Verma, who took oath as an MoS for the second time, began his political career as a common worker in the BJP. Hailing from the extremely backward Lodh community in Uttar Pradesh's Budaun district, he was influenced by the late former state chief minister Kalyan Singh.

Athawale has been an MoS in the NDA government in the social justice and empowerment ministry since 2016. His RPI(A) is part of the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP. PTI UZM UZM KSS KSS