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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: Two political heavyweights from Odisha- Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Chandra Sarangi have been allotted berths in the second term of the Narendra Modi government. While Pradhan has been awarded a second stint in the Modi Cabinet for his superb governmental and party organisational performance, Sarangi's induction to the Modi team has come as a surprise.

Known for his organisational skills, Pradhan held important portfolios like Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development in the previous NDA government and showed relentless endevaour to drive BJP's presence in Odisha.

Pradhan was administered oath of secrecy by the President of India at the swearing-in-ceremony of the Modi government at Rashtrapati Bhavan Thursday.

Thanking PM Modi, BJP leadership for showing confidence in him, Pradhan while speaking to media after the oath-taking ceremony, said, "Modiji's Cabinet is based on lot of aspirations and we all will give our best efforts to make the PM's dream of a new and developed India and Odisha successful."

Similarly, a dedicated veteran of the saffron party unit in Odisha, Pratap Sarangi is a surprise inclusion in the team Modi 2.0. The first-time parliamentarian, who is being fondly called as ‘Odisha’s Modi’ has been made a Union Minister of State (MoS). Sarangi was adjudged the ‘Best Politician’ at OTV’s Odisha Citizen Awards-2017.

"I had never expected to be a minister because I am first-timer and so I thank PM Modiji and most of all the people for giving me a chance to serve them. With the new role, I have a huge political and cultural responsibility upon me, so I seek blessings from everyone to work with complete dedication," Sarangi said after the swearing-in-ceremony.

Here's the full profile of both the leaders from Odisha.

Dharmendra Pradhan

A prominent face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in just concluded Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Odisha, Pradhan’s political journey has witnessed a rise and rise. Elected to the upper house of the Parliament this time from Madhya Pradesh, he is a three-time MP and one-time MLA.

Backed by his organisational skills, the saffron party got eight out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in 2019 elections while its vote share in the twin polls have increased significantly.

Son of former Union Minister Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra was born on June 26, 1969, in Talcher. He belongs to the Other Backward Caste (OBC) category. He is married to Mridula Pradhan and has two children Nishant and Naimisha.

He started his political carrier as an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist in 1983 while pursuing higher secondary education in Talcher College. He became the president of student union in Talcher in 1985. Later, he became the national secretary of ABVP. He did his M.A. in Anthropology from Utkal University in Odisha.

Pradhan became an MLA from Pallahara constituency in 2000 when the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) came to power in Odisha in alliance with the BJP. Pradhan was conferred the ‘Best Legislator Award’, the Utkalmani Gopabandhu Pratibha Samman in 2002-03 and the Odisha Citizens’ Award in 2013.

He represented the Deogarh Lok Sabha constituency of Odisha in the 2004 elections. Having proved his organisational skills, Pradhan became the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha National President from 2004 to 2006.

In addition to being a BJP general secretary, he has worked as party’s election in-charge for Bihar as also an in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Odisha.

A close confidant of BJP President Amit Shah, Pradhan was instrumental in ensuring the BJP’s victory in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, when the NDA came to power led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pradhan became the Petroleum Minister with independent charge. Later, he was promoted to cabinet rank and given the additional portfolio of Skill Development in 2017.

Pradhan is the first Odia to have become a Rajya Sabha MP from other state. He first got the Rajya Sabha representation from Bihar in 2012, and then from Madhya Pradesh in 2018.

As the Union Petroleum Minister, Pradhan has been the architect of several progressive reforms and initiatives being implemented in the sector. Consumer initiatives like PAHAL and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana have earned praise across the country.

Pratap Sarangi

Pratap Sarangi, who has had a long associating with the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, made his maiden entry to Lok Sabha by winning from Balasore constituency defeating sitting BJD MP and industrialist Rabindra Kumar Jena by 12,956 votes in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

For the 64-year-old, his hard work and dedication to people appear to have earned him a huge opportunity to fulfill his desire-serving the people. He lives in a thatched house, rides a bicycle and spends a major portion of his MLA pension to support education of poor children and his simplicity has already created a buzz in social media.

A national executive member of BJP, Sarangi was elected to Odisha Assembly twice in 2004 and 2009 from Nilagiri constituency in Balasore district. He had also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Balasore constituency but faced defeat.

However, Sarangi’s association with active politics and electoral victories has not affected his lifestyle as he continues to live in a mud and bamboo house and rides a bicycle to most places, even during his earlier poll campaigns. He has dedicated his life to social work and uplift of the poor and lives like an ascetic.

After graduating from Fakir Mohan College in Balasore, the firebrand leader, who is fluent in Sanskrit, wanted to become a monk of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission but the math encouraged him to engage himself in social work instead. Thereafter, he started serving people in and around his village and got associated with RSS and VHP.

The Balasore MP is credited with opening a number of schools for the poor children in the tribal and remote areas of Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts of the state which were devoid of educational facilities.

Sarangi has also functioned as the Odisha unit president of Bajrang Dal and spearheaded a movement for the protection of cows.

In the run up to the recent elections, Sarangi adopted his own style of campaigning, which was in sharp contrast to that of his rivals who had hired professional agencies and campaign managers.

Sarangi relied on party workers and moved around in an autorickshaw. The newly elected lawmaker is firm that his new status as parliamentarian will not change his lifestyle as he believes in working for the people and serving the country.

With agency inputs...

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