Low-profile Arjun Ram Meghwal in hot seat of Union law minister

New Delhi: From weaving a yarn to being an efficient administrator and overseeing the making of laws, it has been an eventful journey for Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, who took over as the law minister on Thursday.

Born to a family of weavers in Kishmidesar village in Bikaner, Meghwal, a three-term Lok Sabha member, has played a key role in the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.

He has been the chief whip of the party in Lok Sabha and later, a Minister of State handling portfolios such as finance, corporate affairs, heavy industry and public enterprises, water resources, parliamentary affairs and culture.

In a surprise development, Meghwal was appointed the Minister of State (independent charge) of Law and Justice, succeeding Kiren Rijiju, whose 22-month tenure saw frequent run-ins with the judiciary.

The appointment of Meghwal, a prominent Scheduled Caste face of the BJP, also comes ahead of the assembly elections in Rajasthan later this year and is being seen as a move to consolidate the party’s support base within the community.

Born on December 7, 1954, Meghwal became a law graduate in 1977 and earned his master’s degree in Political Science. He obtained an MBA degree from the University of the Philippines.

Meghwal started working as a telephone operator in the post and telegraph department in 1974 while pursuing his studies.

He cleared the Rajasthan Administrative Service examination in 1980 and served in various capacities in the state government across different districts. Meghwal was promoted to the Indian Administrative Service in 1999 and he went on to serve in various administrative posts, including as the district magistrate of Churu.

Meghwal sought voluntary retirement from the IAS in 2009 and took the political plunge by contesting the Lok Sabha elections the same year.

Known for his rendition of bhajans, he has performed in the 638th fair of Baba Ramdev at Ramdevra, along with the Bhajan Mandali. He was also seen singing devotional songs at the Rajasthan Kabir Yatra 2016.

As a politician, Meghwal is known for donning traditional attire – a colourful Rajasthani turban and a dhoti.

The bureaucrat-turned-politician shot into the limelight as the chief whip of the BJP and was one of the few members who preferred to cycle to Parliament.

In 2016, Meghwal reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan for his swearing-in ceremony as a minister on a bicycle.

Meghwal was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha from Bikaner in 2009 and retained his seat in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

He has been at the forefront of pursuing the alleged illegal land deals of businessman Robert Vadra in Bikaner.

Meghwal has been a strong advocate of getting Rajasthani recognised as an official language under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, a dream that has remained unfulfilled till now.

He was married at the age of 13 to Pana Devi, and the couple has two daughters and two sons.