Dharmendra Pradhan remains prominent Odisha face in Modi 3.0 too

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, June 9 (UNI) Senior BJP leader from Odisha Dharmendra Pradhan, who has held important portfolios in the previous two terms of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was on Sunday inducted as a Cabinet Minister in the Modi 3.0 government.

Pradhan, who won from Sambhalpur in Odisha by defeating the Biju Janata Dal candidate by over 1.19 lakh votes, has served as Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas with independent charge in Modi-1. In 2017, Pradhan was elevated to cabinet rank in the same ministry, with additional charge of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

In the second term of PM Modi, Pradhan was made cabinet minister and given the portfolio of steel. In 2021, he was made Union Minister of Education, Skill Development, and Entrepreneurship, and tasked with implementation of the ambitious National Education Policy (NEP).

A post-graduate in Anthropology from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Pradhan is the son of former Union Minister Debendranath Pradhan. He began his political career as an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist in 1983 and served as its Secretary. He joined the BJP in 1998, became the National Secretary of the party in 2002, and then President of BJP Yuva Morcha in 2004.

Pradhan was first elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly in the 2000 election when the BJP had an alliance with the Biju Janata Dal. In 2004, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Deogarh seat, previously held by his father Debendranath Pradhan, who served as Union Minister of Surface Transport and Minister of State for Agriculture.

He was the longest-serving Petroleum Minister (almost seven years) and is credited with several progressive reforms and initiatives in the ministry, including consumer initiatives like PAHAL, the largest Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme.

During his tenure, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, providing over 80 million LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

Pradhan made several key decisions in the hydrocarbons sector. Supported by the Union Cabinet, he introduced a new Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP). He also initiated various reforms and initiatives to aid the country’s energy transition efforts, promoting gas as a bridge fuel, ethanol, CBG and biodiesel, implementing the SATAT scheme, promoting hydrogen-blended CNG buses in Delhi, and establishing LNG stations for long-haul trucks.

As the Minister for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (2017-19), Pradhan launched many key initiatives focusing on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling the Indian workforce, emphasizing on bridging the skills gap for Indian youth.

Pradhan represented Bihar and then Madhya Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha. After a gap of almost 15 years, he re-entered electoral politics, contesting the Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat in 2024. He defeated BJD’s organizational secretary and powerful leader Pranab Prakash Das with a thumping margin.

In the outgoing Modi-2 government, Pradhan held the Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship portfolio, playing a crucial role in formulating and implementing the New Education Policy 2024, which places strong emphasis on inclusive education, ensuring that every child has access to quality education regardless of their background or ability.

During his tenure, Pradhan was appointed as the election-in-charge of Bihar, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, and also served as organization in-charge of Tripura, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. He was instrumental in spearheading the election campaign in Odisha during the 2014, 2019, and 2024 general elections.

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