Retaining his ministerial spot in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second government, five-term North Goa MP Shripad Naik now has an opportunity to finally create his own political brand.
The 66-year-old Shripad Naik, one of the two most prominent faces of the BJP in Goa, had for years now, been overshadowed by the dynamic and enterprising presence of Manohar Parrikar, a four-term Chief Minister who died of cancer in March this year.
Both were described by their peers as 'Ram and Laxman' of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which was finding its feet in the coastal state.
Naik's journey spans from being a soft-spoken Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteer, state-level kabaddi player and sarpanch of the Durbhat village panchayat in the mid-1980s to his third stint as a Central Minister in 2019.
According to his long-time associate, friend and BJP office bearer Govind Parvatkar, Shripad Naik's "patience" has held him in good stead in his political journey.
"He is immensely patient. That is his biggest quality. He has the ability to listen to people and grasp the subject," Parvatkar told IANS.
After his two-term stint as sarpanch, Naik was elected to the Goa Assembly from Marcaim in 1994. In 1999, he was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha and was later inducted into then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's ministry in 2000, where he served as Minister of State for Agriculture, Shipping, Civil Aviation, Road Transport and Highways and Finance.
Since then he has been undefeated in the Lok Sabha elections. In Modi's first government, he was Minister of State for Tourism and Minister with independent charge of the newly formed AYUSH Ministry, which anchored Modi's Yoga outreach across India and the world.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha from North Goa by defeating his nearest Congress rival Girish Chodankar by 80,247 votes.
Naik also overcame resistance from a section of the BJP, notably by late Parrikar's nephew Akhil, who had accused him of being cut off from party workers.