Bhajan Lal Sharma was today sworn in as Chief Minister of Rajsthan.
A group photo taken at the BJP office here ahead of the legislature party meeting earlier this week showed Bhajan Lal Sharma in the very last row.
But an hour or so later, he had jumped places to front and centre stage after the BJP announced that he has been chosen as the leader of the Rajasthan legislature party.
Bhajan Lal Sharma, 56, was today sworn in as chief minister, three decades after his first appointment as a public figure - the sarpanch of a village in Bharatpur district.
Bhajan Lal Sharma, a general secretary in the BJP's state unit and a first-time MLA from Jaipur's Sanganer constituency, has kept a low profile in the party.
Considered a hardcore RSS man, Bhajan Lal Sharma was actively involved in the agitation for the Ram temple in Ayodhya at the site where the Babri mosque stood. In 1992, he spent time in jail for this.
That was around the beginning of his political career. He has been a village sarpanch twice, starting at the age of 27.
Over the past 30 years, Mr Sharma has held various posts in the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and in the party organisation.
He went to school in the Bharatpur district's Atari village and Nadbai town.
Later, he joined the RSS-affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and also took up social causes in Nabadi and Bharatpur.
Mr Sharma actively participated in the 1990 ABVP protest in which thousands of students from across the country gathered in Jammu to march towards Srinagar.
The authorities stopped them, and Mr Sharma was among the several who courted arrest in Udhampur, protesting against attacks on Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
Bhajan Lal Sharma then moved on to the BJYM, the BJP's youth wing. He was BJYM's district president thrice before becoming the parent party's Bharatpur district secretary and its district president.
Leaving Bharatpur for the BJP's Rajasthan headquarter, Mr Sharma became the party's state vice president, and is now a general secretary.
Mr Sharma holds a masters' degree in political science and runs an agriculture supplies business.
He is regarded as a 'silent', 'disciplined' worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP - and appreciated by the party bosses for these qualities. At the BJP's state headquarters, the party presidents - Ashok Parnami, Madan Lal Saini, Satish Poonia and then C P Joshi -- kept changing. But Mr Sharma in one role or the other remained a constant at the Jaipur office.
He was a regular at Govardhan-Giriraj Parikarma in Mathura, where the BJP's current president J P Nadda also used to travel, and the two would meet, party leaders say. Mr Sharma was then the district president in Bharatpur.
He worked as an aide to Union Home Minister Amit Shah when he campaigned in the West Bengal assembly elections in 2021, and the senior leaders is said to have been impressed.
The BJP won 115 of the 199 seats on which polling took place in the November assembly elections in Rajasthan.
Bhajan Lal Sharma's swearing-in took place 12 days after the poll results, which were followed by intense speculation over who would be picked by the party for the CM post.
BJP heavyweights like Vasundhara Raje, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Ram Meghwal were being talked about as frontrunners for the CM's post.
But on Friday, they sat on dais as Bhajan Lal Sharma, who came in from nowhere, read out the oath.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)