Atul Garg sworn in as MoS, only minister from NCR

GHAZIABAD: Newly elected legislator from Ghaziabad, Atul Garg, a realtor-turned politician, was sworn in as a minister of state in Yogi Adityanath\'s cabinet on Sunday. Garg (59), who had won from Ghaziabad assembly seat by a margin of 70,484 votes, is the only one to get a ministerial berth from among the eight victorious candidates of Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad districts.

He is yet to be allotted a portfolio.

Garg had defeated his nearest rival, Suresh Bansal of the BSP, by garnering 55% of the total votes polled in his constituency. His name was cleared amid speculations that Noida MLA Pankaj Singh and Sahibabad MLA Sunil Sharma were front-runners for ministerial berths in the new government. Over the past three days, there had been a buzz in the local unit of BJP that Pankaj Singh, Union minister Rajnath Singh\'s son, could get a cabinet berth. In Ghaziabad, Sunil Sharma\'s name had been making the rounds as he had won the elections from Sahibabad seat by a record margin of 1.5 lakh votes across all seats in the five states that went to polls along with Uttar Pradesh.

Shortly after the oath-taking ceremony, Garg told TOI from Lucknow that he was planning to focus on the all-round development of Ghaziabad district. \"A meeting of all elected MLAs from Ghaziabad will be convened to chalk out a plan for the district\'s development. Ghaziabad will be developed at par with neighbouring Delhi and Gurgaon. I owe my success to my father because of whom I am in politics,\" said Garg.

Garg, a resident of Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad, belongs to a family actively involved in politics since the Jan Sangh days. After taking the oath as minister, Garg took the name of his father, Dinesh Garg, who had been the mayor of Ghaziabad for two terms from 1995 till 2005. Garg had started his political career in 1977 when he was appointed as a polling agent during the elections by the then Janata Party.

He had contested elections for the first time in 2012 on a BJP ticket from Ghaziabad but had lost to Suresh Bansal of the BSP by over 12,000 votes. Garg is the second MLA from the BJP in Ghaziabad who has ever been awarded a ministerial berth in UP. Earlier, Baleshwar Tyagi, who was also an MLA from Ghaziabad, had been a minister in the state governments from 1991 till 2002. Tyagi had held the crucial portfolios of home, panchayati raj and education during his three terms in power.

Garg, a grassroots worker, had been actively involved in the past in the election campaigns of senior BJP leaders from Ghaziabad. He had worked as the \'prachar pramukh\' for current Sahibabad MLA Sunil Sharma when he had contested the assembly elections in 2007 and 2012.

In 2009, he had worked as the \'prachar pramukh\' and poll coordinator for Union home minister Rajnath Singh when he contested the elections from Ghaziabad. His role in enabling the victory of Gen VK Singh (retd) during the 2014 general elections was also taken cognizance by senior party leaders. Garg also worked closely with Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari when he was the national president of BJP.

He worked along with Gadkari to integrate the concept of Antyodaya into the ideology of the BJP. The concept of Antyodaya, which aims to reach out to the most marginalized sections of the society, had been developed by BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya. Garg has also served as the national convener of BJP\'s Investor Protection Cell.