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Promoted to cabinet rank, Dharmendra Pradhan faces two key challenges

Dharmendra Pradhan’s promotion about 20 months before the Lok Sabha as well as Odisha assembly polls can be a boost to the party in the coastal state.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2017 10:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Narendra Modi,Dharmendra Pradhan,BJP
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New Delhi.(Reuters File)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan to cabinet rank on Sunday and gave him the additional charge of the skill development ministry.

Odisha-born Pradhan now has the twin task of delivering the state for the Bharatiya Janata Party and give a new push to the Skill India mission, an issue close to the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pradhan’s promotion as a cabinet minister is largely because of the successful implementation of the scheme to provide free LPG cylinders to BPL families --- another pet scheme of PM Modi. Before the rollout of the scheme, more than 10 million families returned subsidy on LPG cylinders, passing on the benefits to deserving families from poorer sections.

“I am humbled at the trust & confidence reposed on me by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Party President & senior leadership of the Party,” Pradhan, a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar, tweeted. “This is the beauty & strength of our democracy that an ordinary person like me has been given such huge responsibility.”

If Pradhan impressed the PM with his energy in the petroleum ministry, he won praises from party chief Amit Shah for his active involvement in organisational matters. Pradhan was a key strategist for the BJP in Uttarakhand, a state the party won earlier this year.

His promotion in the council of ministers is also seen as a symbol of his growing stature within the BJP in Odisha.

Pradhan’s cabinet colleague, tribal leader Jual Oram, is also a chief ministerial aspirant. With Pradhan also becoming a cabinet minister, the race for the BJP leadership in Odisha is expected to get more intense in the coming months.

With 21 Lok Sabha seats, Odisha figures prominently in the BJP’s scheme of things for 2019. The Lok Sabha and assembly election are held simultaneously in the state. The BJP got a shot in the arm when it emerged as the second largest party in panchayat polls this year. Pradhan will have the challenge to convert this gain into electoral victory in 2019.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 22:41 IST