New Delhi: Moving up the corridors of power, journalist-turned-politician Rajeev Shukla makes his debut in the Manmohan Singh ministry as the new Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.
Known for his good relations with leaders across the political spectrum, Shukla will need to do some deft handling of Opposition parties gearing up to confront the Government on a host of issues in the Monsoon session of Parliament starting on August one.
51-year-old Shukla's inclusion in the Ministry is also with an eye on the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh due early next year. Shukla hails from Kanpur.
Keeping in mind the past few sessions when little business could be transacted in Parliament amid opposition uproar, Shukla admitted that he has an onerous task before him.
"With the Parliamentary Affairs ministry team led by Pawan Kumar Bansal, we all will try our level best to ensure the smooth functioning of Parliament.
"It is a difficult job. I understand that but I think with the cooperation of all political parties including the main opposition party--I will try to solicit their cooperation, we will ensure a peaceful monsoon session. I am very optimistic about it," he said.
This may be easier said than done with the opposition parties set to put the government on the mat on issues like 2G scam, blackmoney, CWG corruption, inflation, Telangana and other issues.
He has a piece of advice for the opposition members, "Instead of creating pandemonium, we can discuss all topics on the floor of the House. Parliament is meant for healthy discussion and if it is allowed, there is no problem."
After practicising journalism for almost two decades in UP and then in Delhi, Shukla moved on to politics and first got elected to Rajya Sabha in April 2000 as a Loktantrik Congress candidate.
An MA/LL.B from Kanpur University, Shukla joined the Congress party in 2003 and became its secretary in January 2006. He was later re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in March 2006 as a Congress candidate from Maharashtra.
"The Prime Minister, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and our young leader Rahul Gandhi have entrusted this responsibility to me keeping something in their mind. It would be my job to do as much as I can to diligently discharge my duties and responsibilities," he said.
Shukla also ventured in cricket and became a member of the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and is currently its vice president as also its official spokesperson.
Starting his journalistic career at a young age as a reporter for Northern India Patrika in Kanpur in 1979, he rose to become the Senior Editor of Sunday Observer, after working in various other newspapers and magazines like Dainik Jagran, Jansatta and Ravivar.
He also anchored a television news show `Rubaru'. He quit journalism in 2000 when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
Shukla, however, continues to write his column 'Power Play' on national and international political events for newspapers.
Shukla also founded media house BAG Films and his wife Anuradha Prasad, is a TV anchor and producer.