Hardeep Singh Puri, the former diplomat who displayed unflinching altruism in driving from the background the construction of new Parliament and navigating India through two back-to-back oil crises, seems to have been rewarded for scam-free tenure in ministries otherwise considered minefields.

Puri, 72, a minister for housing and urban affairs and petroleum and natural gas in the outgoing Modi 2.0 government, was among the ministers sworn in on Sunday in Modi's new administration.

Born in Delhi, the 1974 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Puri claims to be affiliated to ABVP - the students' body aligned to BJP, during his student days at the Hindu College of the Delhi University (DU), where he received his bachelor and master's degrees in history.

He officially joined BJP in January 2014 after retiring from the service.

He was inducted into the Council of Ministers as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs in September 2017. He was given the additional charge of Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Civil Aviation and the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry in May 2019.

In July 2021, he was elevated as the Union Minister and given the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas alongside Housing and Urban Affairs.

While Puri ensured the delivery of the new Parliament building on time as housing and urban development minister, he navigated the country through twin oil crises - an oil price spike and the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war on net importing nations like India.

As the prices began to climb in the last quarter of 2021 and spiked after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he ensured Indian consumers of petrol, diesel, and LPG did not feel the heat.

State-owned oil firms under his administrative control froze retail rates, suffering unprecedented losses. They were allowed to recoup them when rates fell.

This ensured inflation did not heat up while oil profitability was maintained. In fact, oil PSUs booked record profits in the fiscal ended March 31, 2024.

Puri also resisted Western pressure, allowing oil firms to buy oil from Russia that was being shunned by some in Europe and the US after the Ukraine invasion and was available at a discount. From minuscule levels in the pre-war era, Russian oil made up almost 40 per cent of all oil India imported.

This helped cement India's ties with Moscow and provide oil firms cushion to absorb losses on selling petrol and diesel at rates below cost.

Puri successfully defended India's stance and balanced it with continuing its engagement with Saudi Arabia-led OPEC, whose share in the country's oil imports fell drastically.

All this he did while maintaining a scam-free administration. There has been no contracting scam in the award of any project in housing and urban development and no head-turning headlines in the oil ministry, which in previous regimes had seen multiple controversies.

Before joining IFS, Puri worked as a history lecturer at the DU's St Stephen's College.

In his four-decade-long diplomatic tenure, Puri served as the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013.

Previously, he had been the chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from August 2011 to November 2012, secretary-general of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism in New York, and vice-president of the International Peace Institute.

He was also stationed at important posts in Brazil, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

Between 1988 and 1991, he was the coordinator of the UNDP/UNCTAD Multilateral Trade Negotiations Project to help developing countries in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. He also served as the chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee from January 2011 to February 2013.

Puri's last posting before his retirement was as a secretary (economic relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs from 2009 to 2013.