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A member of the Indian National Congress (INC), Ajay Maken became the youngest speaker of a state legislative Assembly in 2003-04, when he assumed that role in Delhi at the age of 39. He has served two Lok Sabha terms as a member of Parliament (from 2004-2010), and three terms as a member of the Delhi legislative Assembly (1993 to 2004).
Born on January 12, 1964, Maken received his early education at St Xaviers School in Delhi and did his BSc Chemistry (Hons) from the Delhi University (DU). Maken became active in student politics during his college days and went on to become the first ever candidate of the National Students' Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of the Congress party, to win election to the post of Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) in 1985.
Maken is credited with privatising power distribution in Delhi and moving public transport to a clean fuel system (compressed natural gas, or CNG). It was under Maken's supervision that the Delhi Metro work was sped up and officially launched on December 25, 2002.
Maken held several ministerial berths, such as transport and power departments, in the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government, and also served as the parliamentary secretary. It was during Dikshit’s tenure that the 1964-born politician became the youngest Assembly speaker. In 2004, when a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government took office at the Centre under Manmohan Singh, Maken became the Union minister for urban affairs and sports.
In 2012-13, Ajay Maken was the youngest Congress member to become a Cabinet minister (for housing and urban poverty alleviation). Earlier, he had been a minister of state with independent charge. Maken also held the position of Minister of State for Home Affairs (2009-2011), and Minister of State for Urban Development (2006-2007).
In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Maken contested from the New Delhi constituency and lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Meenakshi Lekhi. Previously, he had won twice (in 2004 and 2009 national elections) from the same Lok Sabha constituency.