Dharmendra Pradhan: From ABVP activist to Union Minister

Bhubaneswar: Known for his organisational skills, Dharmendra Pradhan is all set to be a cabinet minister again during the second term of the Narendra Modi government.

Pradhan, who held important portfolios like Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development in the previous NDA government, was the prominent face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in just concluded Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Odisha.

Even though he lost one Assembly election from the Pallahara constituency in 2009, Pradhan’s political journey has witnessed a rise and rise. Pradhan, who has been elected to the upper house of the Parliament this time from Madhya Pradesh, is a three-time MP and one-time MLA.

Backed by Pradhan’s organisational skills, the saffron party got eight out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha while its vote share in the twin polls 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.