New Delhi: First time Rajya Sabha member Harivansh, of the Janata Dal (United), on Thursday was elected the deputy chairman of the upper house. A socialist, the parliamentarian from JD(U) only uses his first name, as a person’s caste identity is often inherent in their surnames.

Harivansh became a parliamentarian in 2014, but his association with high offices in Delhi started in June 1990 when he was appointed the additional information advisor (joint secretary) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). His one-year term at the PMO was under veteran socialist leaders Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar.

Harivansh was the editor of Prabhat Khabar, a Hindi daily, between June 1991 and June 2016. He has written and edited at least 11 books.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Harivansh on his election and spoke at length on his journalistic and writing career. The Prime Minister recalled one of his columns on how an ideal parliamentarian should be, adding that he will now have the perfect platform to take his vision forward.

The political rise of Harivansh can be attributed to his close ties within the JDU, and his NDA partners, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Even though Harivansh started his political career in the JDU since he is a close aide of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the parliamentarian is equally well connected within the BJP and is a personal friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The association of Harivansh and Modi goes back to the days when Harivansh was working for a newspaper in Ranchi, Jharkhand, while Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.

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“Today we mark the anniversary of the Quit India Movement. Harivansh Ji hails from Ballia, a land linked with freedom fighters. He has been inspired by Loknayak JP. He also spent time in Varanasi. Here is a leader who worked with a statesman like Chandra Shekhar Ji," Modi said.

The 62-year-old Harivansh also met opposition leaders.

A close aide of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the parliamentarian is equally well connected in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circles, besides being a close friend of Modi. The association between the two goes back to the days when Harivansh was working for a newspaper in Ranchi, Jharkhand and Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.

“I heartily congratulate the new deputy chairman on behalf of me, my party and the entire opposition....once someone gets elected to a constitutional post, that leader no longer remains from one party or community, they belong to the country, to every party and every community," said leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress.

Harivansh was born in Bihar’s Ballia, but spent his formative years in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He studied MA (economics) at Benaras Hindu University. He also has a diploma in journalism.

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