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Santosh Kumar Gangwar knows how to tackle controversies: from jobs data to demonetisation

A law graduate from Bareilly, the BJP’s kurmi leader has been elected to the Parliament 8 times and has also held crucial ministerial posts.

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Lucknow: The appointment of multiple-term MP and an RSS man, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, once again as the minister of state for labour and employment (independent charge) is particularly important given how the Modi government was accused of suppressing joblessness data in the previous term.

But Gangwar knows how to weather challenges and controversies, having served as MoS in the finance ministry when the tricky demonetisation and goods and services tax (GST) were implemented.

A law graduate from Bareilly, the BJP’s kurmi leader has not only been elected to the Parliament for eight terms but has also held crucial ministerial posts in BJP governments —headed by Modi as well as the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Earlier this year, during Gangwar’s first tenure as MoS labour and employment, the Modi government faced widespread criticism over its attempt to bury data on joblessness in the country by allegedly stopping the release of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report.

Portions of the NSSO report were leaked which showed that unemployment rate in 2017-18 had been at a 45-year high, contradicting government’s claims about job growth in the country.

As the controversy raged on, Gangwar maintained that “unemployment is going down and people are getting jobs” and “self-employment is also increasing”, claiming that this could be seen in his own constituency.

The jobs data numbers were officially confirmed by the government Friday, just a week after its re-election.

Electoral wins

Gangwar’s tryst with labour and finance seems to have begun in the 1980s, prior to his active participation in electoral politics.

Before his first electoral success in 1989 when he became the Bareilly MP, Gangwar had been instrumental in setting up an urban cooperative bank in Bareilly.

Also read: Cycle-riding Pratap Sarangi is ‘Odisha’s Modi’ who took New Delhi by storm

Since 1989, he has lost a parliamentary election just once — in 2009, when he was defeated by Congress leader Praveen Singh Aron by a margin of just 9,000 votes. After he lost Bareilly, the BJP made Gangwar the national secretary and also the Odisha in-charge.

In the 2014 general elections, however, Gangwar managed to regain his seat by a margin of around 2 lakh votes.

“Despite being in politics for so many years and holding ministerial posts, he has no airs,” BJP Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Chandra Mohan said. “Several times during this election, he would just hop onto a scooter or motorcycle while going from one meeting to another.”

Gangwar won this year’s Lok Sabha elections by a margin of over 1.6 lakh votes.

Ministerial posts

Between 1999 and 2004, Gangwar had been in charge of various MoS portfolios including petroleum and natural gas, science and technology, parliamentary affairs, heavy industries and public enterprises as well as labour.

In the 2014 government, too, Gangwar had a similar trajectory, holding a range of important MoS posts — textiles, finance, labour, parliamentary affairs, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

During his tenure as the MoS textile (independent charge) till 2016, Gangwar was considered to be instrumental promoting the silk and handicraft tradition in north-eastern states of the country. One such effort included setting up of apparel and garment-making centres in each of the seven states in the north-eastern region.

He had earlier launched a range of programmes for skill development of carpet weavers, terracotta artisans in September 2014 in PM Modi’ Varanasi constituency.

In 2016, Gangwar was moved out of the textile ministry. It was during his next stint as MoS in the finance ministry that two key NDA projects — demonetisation and GST — were implemented.

Also read: Harsh Vardhan, the good doctor returns with Modi’s renewed trust to roll out Ayushman Bharat

Last year, Gangwar made headlines over his controversial remarks on two brutal rapes that had sent shock waves across the nation — the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, and the rape of a 17-year-old girl in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.

In the wake of the crimes, Gangwar said that while the incidents were “unfortunate”, they “sometimes cannot be stopped”. He had a change of heart hours later when he welcomed a government ordinance that allowed death penalty to convicts who had raped girls below 12 years of age.

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  1. It is sad that Central Government is trying it’s old tricks and raising this bogey of Hindi instead of concentrating on economic issues. Our GDP growth has slumped to 5.8% the lowest in the last 5 years. Is it that the Government is trying to deviate attention of the people just like Balakot?

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