Jagdeep Dhankhar, who won the election by a hefty margin of 346 votes last week, took oath as the 14th Vice President of India on Thursday, 11 August.
A National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate, Dhankhar bagged 528 of the total 725 votes that were cast, defeating the Opposition's Margaret Alva, who garnered 182 votes.
Dhankhar is famous for his differences with the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal and the state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, but beyond the staunch critic lies a cricket-loving, cappuccino-making Jat leader and more.
'Kisan Putra,' Lawyer
Born on 18 May 1951 to a family of farmers in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu, Jagdeep Dhankhar was the second of his three brothers and a sister. Like most farming families, Dhankhar’s family too wasn’t financially well off and thus his childhood was one of struggle and hardship.
He used to walk four to five kilometres daily to go to school in his village, before enrolling in Sainik School, Chittorgarh with a full merit scholarship in 1962. He went on to graduate from the prestigious Maharaja College in Rajasthan’s Jaipur, with a BSc in Physics.
He then completed his LLB from the University of Rajasthan in 1978-1979 and enrolled himself in Rajasthan’s Bar Council. As a lawyer, Dhankhar fought cases primarily related to steel, coal mines, and International commercial arbitration in Rajasthan before moving to practise in the Supreme Court from 1990.
He has held many important positions in his legal career, including president of the Rajasthan High Court Bar Association and member of the Rajasthan Bar Council. He was senior advocate at the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan. He was the senior-most designated advocate of the state before becoming the governor of West Bengal.
The Jat Leader
Like most Jat leaders from his time, Dhankhar, during his hay days, was associated with Devi Lal. Lal picked him as the Opposition candidate in 1989 to contest from a then Congress citadel.
Dhankhar was elected to the 9th Lok Sabha from the Jhunjhunu Parliamentary Constituency in 1989 as a Janata Dal candidate. He became the chairperson of a parliamentary committee and a Union minister in 1990 in the minority government led by Chandra Shekhar. In fact, he followed Lal’s footsteps when Lal walked out of the VP Singh government.
He was part of a delegation as a deputy leader of a parliamentary group to the European parliament.
He later joined the Congress and was elected to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from Kishangarh Constituency in Ajmer district from 1993-1998. This was the time Dhankhar stopped standing by Lal’s side. However, with the rise of Ashok Gehlot, he shifted to the BJP in 2003 and became close to Vasundhara Raje. Gradually, he focused more on his legal career than politics. While being in the BJP, he was the national convenor of the BJP’s Law and Legal Affairs Department.
He played an integral part in granting Other Backward Class status to the Jats in Rajasthan.
He took oath as the governor of West Bengal on 30 July 2019 and has been at loggerheads with the Mamata Banerjee government ever since. He has been vocal about the issues like violence, lawlessness, and corruption in the state, and the administration not doing anything to curb it, while the TMC has always called him a ‘BJP stooge.’
Their most recent differences came when the government decided to make the chief minister the de-facto head of the state universities, by removing the governor.
Dhankhar is a sports aficionado, having played cricket from a very early age. Even during his professional life, he has always been associated with sports – being the president of the Rajasthan Olympic and Tennis Associations.
He is also a coffee-lover who loves to beat his own cappuccino in a desi way.
A bookworm and a travel enthusiast, he has travelled several countries with his wife Sudesh Dhankhar.