BJP's troubleshooter and 3-term RS member Piyush Goyal pads up for LS innings

Goyal will contest from Mumbai North

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal

From leading delicate trade negotiations and being a troubleshooter for the government, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal is all set to take the plunge in the rough and tumble of electoral politics as the BJP's candidate from Mumbai North in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

A three-term Rajya Sabha member, Goyal (59) has been in the thick of politics since his teenage years when he campaigned for his mother, late Chandrakanta Goyal, for the Maharashtra Assembly election.

Ved Prakash Goyal, Piyush Goyal's father, was an old-time RSS worker who worked closely with Sangh stalwarts Balasaheb Deoras, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani. The Goyal home at Sion in central Mumbai was a beehive of political activity, with veteran leaders opting for it as a residence of choice when visiting the metropolis.

Piyush Goyal, known largely by his pet name "Happy", had the task of escorting leaders around Mumbai. The formal alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena was also struck at the Goyal residence after a meeting between Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and Vajpayee in 1984.

His go-getter approach was spotted by BJP leaders and Goyal played a key role in the election campaign of Advani, who first contested the Lok Sabha polls from the New Delhi constituency in 1989.

Even in the Narendra Modi government, Goyal's reputation as a man who gets things done has seen him negotiating issues ranging from international trade to equally challenging domestic matters, such as the recent farmers' agitation.

Election campaigning is not new for the Mumbai-born Goyal who, as a teenager, had canvassed for votes for his mother in the municipal corporation election and later, the Maharashtra Assembly polls. Chandrakanta Goyal served as a corporator after Emergency and later, represented the Matunga constituency in the Maharashtra Assembly for three terms.

Late Ved Prakash Goyal served as the shipping minister in the Vajpayee cabinet. The senior Goyal was also the national treasurer of the BJP and played a key role in keeping the party coffers healthy through his network of contacts.

Piyush Goyal continued his father's legacy when he was appointed as the BJP's national treasurer in 2010.

Goyal has a brilliant academic record. He bagged the all-India second rank in the chartered accountancy exams, which put him on the path for a career as an investment banker. He has also served as a government-nominated director on the boards of the State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda.

That Goyal enjoys the trust of Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah was evident when he was roped in for the 2014 election campaign to organise youngsters across the country. His efforts were rewarded as he was assigned key portfolios -- power, coal and new and renewable energy -- in the first Modi government.

He was given the charge of the railway ministry and subsequently, he stepped in as the finance minister when Arun Jaitley was indisposed.

Goyal pushed for power sector reforms to resolve discoms' financial problems and increase their operational efficiency, and was instrumental in rolling out the world's largest LED bulb distribution programme.

He was appointed as the leader of the Rajya Sabha after BJP veteran Thawarchand Gehlot took charge as the governor of Karnataka.

In Modi's second term, Goyal was given the portfolio of commerce and industry and has been steering India's international trade policies for the last five years. He counts the signing of trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Australia and more recently, with the European Free Trade Association comprising Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland as his key achievements.

He was handed over the consumer affairs and food and public distribution portfolio after Ram Vilas Paswan's death. Taking charge of the crucial ministries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Goyal ensured the smooth implementation of distribution of free foodgrains to nearly 80 crore poor and vulnerable people under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

Having crafted electoral strategies for years, Goyal has now taken the electoral plunge from Mumbai North, a seat currently held by Gopal Shetty of the BJP. The seat was earlier nurtured and represented for three terms by BJP veteran Ram Naik, with whom Goyal enjoys a close relationship.

"Of course, I am very excited. I am looking forward to a decision being made by the party leaders and I do hope that I get an opportunity to contest. It will be my privilege," Goyal told PTI recently when asked about his plans for contesting Lok Sabha elections.    

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