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Name: Solanki, Bharatsinh
Current Position: Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation


Bharatsinh Solanki, a longtime Congress party member from Gujarat, currently took over ashead of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, a cabinet-level position, in October 2012.


Until recently, he was minster of state for railways, but was elevated in a broad cabinet shuffle in late October 2012 that is thought to be the last major changes ahead of the 2014 national election. With Gujarat considered a major battleground ahead of that election, Solanki’s stature – along with other high-level Congress politicians from the state – has been rising in recent times.


Solanki was born in the historic seaside city of Borsad, in Gujarat, in 1953, the son of a veteran Congress leader, Madhavsingh Solanki. He studied civil engineering in school and, eventually,rose quickly within Gujarati politics at a time when the Congress party in the state was very weak. He became general secretary of the state’s Congress party committee by 1992 and deputy leader of the opposition within the state legislative assembly by 2004, following a landslide victory following the communal riots of 2002. Thereafter he turned his attention to national politics, becoming elected to the Lok Sabha that same year and immediately serving a two-year term as secretary of the All India Congress Committee. After he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009, he served as minister of state for both power and railways until he took over his current position. He remains a powerful force in Gujarati politics, having been regularly tipped as a potential threat to unseat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Minister and strongman Narendra Modi.


During the course of his political career, Solanki has at times been considered something of a maverick, including within the Congress party itself, known for his wile and technological savvy. This is not only due to his relative outspokenness on certain issues but also for his courting of controversy in, for instance, taking extended international trips, particularly in the United States, even while the Gujarat state legislative assembly was in session or, in 2007, briefly creating afuror after a sexually explicit video surfaced publicly. Nonetheless, Solanki has risen to become one of the Congress party’s senior most members, having been deputed recently to personally decide on candidates ahead of a rancorous election in Mumbai.

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