Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, a 56-year-old Congress strongman from the party bastion of Murshidabad district in West Bengal, was on Sunday inducted into the union council as minister of state for railways.
Choudhury is considered one of the few party leaders with a mass base in West Bengal.
A school dropout, Choudhury took on the erstwhile ruling Left Front using his organisational skills, and countered the rivals' muscle power in like manner to turn the once red citadel of Murshidabad into a Congress stronghold.
It was Choudhury who persuaded Pranab Mukherjee (now India's president) to contest the lok Sabha election from Jangipur in 2004 and 2009 and ensured his victory both times.
Now serving his third consecutive Lok Sabha term from Baharampur after triumphing in 1996 from the Nabagram assembly seat, Choudhury has been a sharp critic of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
His elevation to the union ministry could be linked to the party high command's bid to counter Banerjee after the Congress's divorce with the Trinamool and to strengthen the party organisation in the state.
According to an affidavit submitted by Choudhury before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he has one criminal case pending against him in court.
AH Khan Choudhury
AH Khan Choudhury has been sworn in as Minsiter of State for minister of Health and Family Welfare.
Khan Choudhury's induction as a Union minister ended a long drought of 25 years for a ministerial berth to any MP from Malda. Choudhury is the brother of former railway minister ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury.
Image: Newly sworn-in cabinet ministers stand alongside the Prime Minister and President post the oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday.