Bhopal: Former Union minister and president of BJP’s National ST Morcha, Faggan Singh Kulaste has re-emerged as the tribal face of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. The 57-year old MP from Mandla was sworn in as a minister of state in the Union Council of ministers on Tuesday.
Kulaste, a post graduate and LLB, belongs to the tribal Gond community. He had struggled hard to survive in politics, beginning his journey from the tribal village of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh.
Gond tribals are Dravidian people of central India spread over the state of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Western Odisha. At 11 million they are the second-largest tribe in central India. Kulaste has been a patron of Akhil Bharatiya Gond Sangh since 1998
In October 1999, Kulaste was inducted as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but was later redesignated as MoS, Tribal Affairs.
He was one of the three MPs ‘starring’ in the 2008 cash-for-vote scandal – an unprecedented event in the annals of Indian parliamentary democracy which saw three legislators taking out bundles of cash in the well of the House claiming that they had been bribed to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government in the trial of strength in Lok Sabha. Kulaste was later jailed for two months over a sting operation exposing the cash-for-vote. However, a court in Delhi had acquitted him in the case.
Kulaste’s current total declared assets amount to about Rs 2.5 crores, and liabilities amounting to Rs 98 lakhs. Kulaste sprung a surprise last year by throwing his hat in the ring for the post of BJP state president in Madhya Pradesh. He had reportedly told the party leadership that he either be accommodated as state BJP president or be appointed a minister in the Union cabinet. He also made news by performing a special puja to get a ministerial berth.
“The party has to use my services in some way. I have told the party leaders I either be appointed state president or inducted in the Union cabinet,” he had told reporters then. Kulaste was appointed as president of National ST Morcha of the BJP twice in succession. He served as a Rajya Sabha member from 2012 before being elected to Lok Sabha in 2014 from his bastion Mandla.
This is a new beginning. The government in the last two years has taken important decisions and I will try to give my best to implement the same,” he told TOI on Tuesday..