Dharmendra Pradhan: The longest-serving Oil Minister

(Archana Sherry)

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The Modi cabinet has all the Ministers, new ones or the old ones, who are well known to perform. This was anyway, expected out of the wisdom of PM Modi that he would choose the best ones in accordance with their pro-active image.

One of the most admired ministers of the previous Modi cabinet, Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan now is going to be India’s longest-serving oil minister now after being worn at this time.

Mr. Pradhan is known as Ujjwala-man who has successfully executed one of the dream projects of PM Modi – Ujjwala Yojna. Being set out for the second consecutive stint he also has chalked out his plan of action for the next five years. His plan is full of challenges that will suit his workaholic image.   

The priorities the Petroleum Minister has set for him will be to raise domestic oil and gas production, expedite the creation of a national gas grid and create common market-friendly infrastructure.

Hailing from Orissa state Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan is the only oil minister after Ram Naik to have completed a full five-year term. Mr. Ram Naik was heading the department during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government days. But it was Mr. Pradhan, not Mr. Naik who was reassigned to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

And it was him only who got popular in millions of Indian households with the free LPG cooking gas connection scheme for Ujjwala in the first stint.

There were also a few good epitomes from the Petroleum Ministry prior to Mr. Pradhan. Talk about Murli Deora, the late petroleum minister too held the department for a complete five-year term.  His stint starting from  January 2006 to January 2011 as well run as the oil minister of India though it was split over two governments and both the governments belonged to the UPA.

Contribution to the country by Mr. Pradhan can be witnessed by Pradhanmantri Ujjwala Yojna. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched by PM Modi on 1 May 2016 in order to distribute 50 million LPG connections to women of Below the Poverty Line category. A budgetary allocation of ₹800 billion (US$12 billion) was made for the scheme. What can be seen as the Yojna’s pragmatic success, is its distribution figures along with its progression. In the first year of its launch, the connections distributed were 22 million against the target of 15 million. As of 23 October 2017, 30 million connections were distributed, 44% of which were given to the families belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This number crossed 58 million by December 2018. Then came the year 2018, in the yearly Budget of India, the scope of the PMUY was widened which included 80 million poor Indian households. Not only this, around 21,000 awareness camps were conducted by oil marketing companies (OMC). The scheme led to an increase in LPG consumption by 56% in 2019 as compared to 2014. and all this could not have happened without the active execution support of the Petroleum Ministry.

India is not amazed watching BJP’s expanding ground in the state of Orissa where Patnaiks have been ruling for decades. Though their governance is good so far other than other states ruled by Cong CMs with no apparent development. But still what Patnaik govt has been doing is not sufficient for the poor in the state to hope for a better life prospect. Mr. Pradhan took this responsibility from the platform of the central government led by the BJP. He also successfully bolstered the poll prospects of the BJP candidates in the states. His keeping tab with the voters in all Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in the state. This wise electioneering proved fruitful for the party.

It was him only who, during the second phase of the four-phase elections in Orissa had announced a dal-salt-rice package for the poor which was loved by the people increasing his popularity here!

Now the pro-active Minister of Modi Cabinet is holding lots of expectations on his shoulder with lots of promises to keep. Amen.

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