Yunus Khan, dashing and handsome, is running his second stint as a cabinet minister in Chief Minister Vasundhara Rajeʼs government and also serving a second term as a legislator. After a smooth innings as Transport and Sports Minister from 2003 to 2008, Khan was one of the top 11 legislators who made it to Rajeʼs ʻTeam Aʼ last year. He was entrusted with the plum Public Works Department portfolio and having delivered the goods, was rewarded with additional responsibility of the Transport Department in the recent cabinet reshuffle.

From a development officer with the Life Insurance Corporation of India to enjoying unstinted confidence of the Chief Minister as well as the party high command, Khan has come a long way.

He became a member of the national working committee of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 1993 and went on to get a party ticket for the assembly elections four times from Nagaur. Khan insists that the BJP party is changing and its leaders are shedding their communal image to make it a more inclusive and pragmatic political force.

As Yunus Khan says, “It is true that I represent the minority community but in spite of that my commitment is towards everyone. As a minister, say as the PWD minister, I do not make roads for any particular community. If a road is made every community uses it. I am the transport minister. If a bus is plying, people from all communities will sit in it. So I will have to work for every community. In this competitive age we have to fulfill so many responsibilities and perform. In areas such as drinking water and health, we cannot do anything for any particular community. But yes, for backward communities such as minorities and tribal communities, some things donʼt reach them like proper education. If you have to work for the minority then you have to make a special effort in the education sector.”

Meeting him recently in Kolkata was a revelation when he pointed out that his relationship with this city goes back several years.  “I used to visit this great city of art and culture from my days as an officer with Life Insurance Corporation of India. This city is known for its political zeal and cultural maturity. Everyone who comes here loves its atmosphere of free debate and song and music. It has been the birthplace of great minds like Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. And of course its cuisine and sweetmeats are famous! I see a vast improvement in its infrastructure now and I hope and pray that Kolkata will grow from strength to strength.”  

Talking about his party, the Minister says, “I am very satisfied working here. Personally I have never felt any interference. Earlier, there was a perception that BJP was anti-Muslim but now it is no longer like that. We have managed to gain peopleʼs trust. With time, all the misunderstandings will fade away, so will the distance. I am hopeful that more eligible people from the minority community will associate themselves with the party and will get good opportunities to perform. Both the party and the community will have to join hands and meet each other half way. Both have to make efforts to bridge the gap.”

About Rajasthan, Yunus Khan points out, “It is, by and large, a traditional state but it has wonderful customs, a warm and friendly atmosphere that is non-partisan and makes for a great place for investments. Tourism is one of Rajasthanʼs greatest attractions because of its exciting history. At one time people were migrating from here to find better opportunities. But with the increase in tourist traffic and industrial development, opportunities have also gone up. What was once considered backward is no longer so. Infrastructure has also improved by leaps and bounds. Education facilities are excellent. So we are hoping that many more industries will invest here and find the state congenial for growth and development.”

With his responsibilities as a Minister increasing every day, Yunus Khan says that he finds great relaxation in his work itself. “I cannot separate my work from my private time,” he smiles. “For me, my work is worship. It is on very rare occasions that I get time to go out for outings or holidays with my family. I have no personal hobbies or other leisure pursuits. When you accept the responsibility of working for your party for the greater good of the public, then you have to sacrifice your private life and pastimes. My family understands my responsibilities and is always supportive. I do not succumb to tension easily as it is detrimental to my work and thinking. If you donʼt have a clear mind, how can you tackle any problems with equanimity? To perform well, you have to be relaxed. You have to be calm and cool to be able to understand the challenges of your task. I try to therefore remain tension-free all the time and concentrate on what is on hand. I want to ensure that I can serve the public better and better and bring progress and peace to my state and to my country.”