Saturday, May 30, 2009

India's Muslim Ministers

NEW DELHI — A new government has been inducted in India this week, days after the ruling Congress party swept the country's general elections.
The 79-member government is a mix of veteran politicians, Congress stalwarts and several new faces.
Among the new cabinet lineup are five Muslim ministers. gives its readers a glimpse on the Muslim faces in the new Indian government.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health
Hailing from the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, Azad, 60, is one of India's most powerful Muslim politicians. He served as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 2005 to 2008. He stepped down after a row over land transfer in Jammu and Kashmir to a Hindu shrine.
Azad was also the parliamentary affairs minister in the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until October 2005.
Dubbed ' crisis manager', Azad is the chief political strategist of the ruling Congress Party. He has been credited for the party election victory in key states, especially in the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir.
Azad has served as the general secretary of All-India Congress Committee for record nine times. He was also a member of the party's powerful Congress Working Committee for 18 years. He also served as parliamentary affairs and civil aviation minister in several Congress-led governments.

Salman Khurshid, Minister of Minority and Corporate Affairs

A lawyer by profession, Khurshid, 56, is a prominent Muslim face in the Congress Party.
He is the son of former Karnataka governor Khursheed Alam Khan and a grandson of India's third president, Dr. Zakir Hussain.
He has been credited for establishing various educational institutes across India.
Khurshid served as an Officer on Special Duty in the Prime Minister's office under late premier Indira Gandhi. In the early 1990s, he was minister of state for external affairs.
In 2004, he was elected a member of the party's Congress Working Committee. He was also elected president of Congress Committee in Uttar Pradesh, India's most important and populous state, for two terms.

Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy

A son of a nationalist Kashmiri leader, Abdullah, 73, is a high-profile politician and the head of the ruling National Conference party in Jammu and Kashmir.
He has served as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on several occasions from 1982.
Starting his political career as 'novice' in 1981, he was named president of the National Conference in 1982.
Abdullah's remarks about Kashmir have repeatedly stirred controversies. He has openly advocated Kashmir's autonomy within the confines of Indian Constitution.
Though he was an anti-Congress politician throughout his political career, Abdullah changed hearts in 2004, going into alliance with Congress Party.
Abdullah still remains a popular politician in Kashmir even after handing over the reins of his party to his son. He has repeatedly stated that his ultimate goal is to be the President of India.
E. Ahmed, Minister of State for Railways
Ahmed, 70, is the President of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). He has served as minister of state for external affairs in the previous government.
Ahmed has been credited for increasing India's quota of Muslim pilgrims travelling for hajj in Saudi Arabia. He is also a member of parliament from newly-constituted Malappuram in Kerala.
Sultan Ahmed, Minister of State for Tourism Ministry
Hailing from the north-eastern state of West Bengal, Ahmed is a leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) headed by Mamta Banerjee.
Ahmed, a first-time member of parliament, swept to parliament after defeating eight-time MP and communist leader Hannan Mollah from Uluberia constituency.
He has been associated with Mohammedan Sporting Club (MSC), one of India's oldest premier football clubs.
Ahmed has vowed greater attention to checking dropouts in the minority community as well as development of rural infrastructure. May 30 2009

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