Rajnath Singh was born on 10 July 1951 in the Bhabhuara village of Uttar Pradesh.
Born into a family of farmers, Rajnath Singh grew up to secure a master’s degree in physics from Gorakhpur University — even acquiring first division results. Before becoming a politician, he was a lecturer of physics at the KB Post Graduate College.
He has been a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since the age of 13 serving in various capacities before becoming the general secretary of the organisation in Mirzapur in 1972.
Two years later, Rajnath Singh rose to become the secretary of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh’s Mirzapur unit — the political wing of the RSS — which later merged with other right-wing parties to become the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
During the state of emergency under Indira Gandhi’s reign, Rajnath Singh was arrested in 1975 and remained in detention for two years. Once he was released, Rajnath Singh was elected into the lower chamber of the Uttar Pradesh state legislature in his first run for public office.
Three years after the BJP established was established in 1980, Rajnath Singh rose through the ranks of the party from being the state president of the youth wing in 1984 to becoming the national general secretary in 1986 and finally being the national president in 1988. During his tenure as the state president of the youth wing, he wrote a book on the causes and solutions of unemployment.
In 1991, when the first BJP government was formed in UP, Rajnath Singh was appointed as the Education Minister. During his tenure, he was responsible for pushing the anti-copying act to prevent cheating in schools and colleges. This led to controversy where graduation rates plummeted as alleged cheaters were arrested. The law was later repealed after a flurry of protests. He was also behind the controversial move to remove ‘distorted portions of history’ from textbooks in the state.
After becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha — the upper house of the Indian Parliament — Rajnath Singh was appointed the president of the UP branch of the BJP in 1997.
Two years later, he was back in New Delhi as the minister of surface transport under the then BJP-NDA alliance. During his brief time with the ministry, he rolled an ambitious program to expand the national highway network to better link major urban areas within the country.
As the turn of the century, he was finally in the big leagues serving as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh but his tenure only lasted a year and a half as he was forced to step down in 2002 after the BJP government lost control of the government during the state assembly elections.
History seemed to repeat itself when he was appointed the minister of agriculture in 2003 but was relieved a year later after the NDA lost control of the Lok Sabha in 2004.
In 2005, Rajnath Singh was appointed the President of the BJP with the aim of bringing the party more in line with ‘Hindutva’ principles. Around that time, his supporters touted him as the next Prime Minister. “Only I would be the bridegroom,” he said back in 2006 during a speech in Lucknow.
Rajnath Singh’s tenure as President of the BJP lasted four years after which he was asked to step down in 2009 when BJP lost in the national parliamentary elections that year. Nonetheless, he did manage to secure a seat for himself in the Lok Sabha.
He made a come back to being the President of the BJP in 2013, replacing the man who had replaced him in 2009 — Nitin Gadkari.
When Narendra Modi was elected into power in 2014, Rajanth Singh joined his cabinet as a minister of home affairs — a post he held until he was assigned to be the minister of defence in 2019.