Dharmendra Pradhan Helped BJP Make Inroads In Naveen Patnaik's Odisha
By Ndtv 31-May-2019
Son of former union minister of state for surface transport, Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra Pradhan steered PM Narendra Modi government's biggest social initiative of providing free cooking gas (LPG) connection to poor women that helped build a base for the party in the rural hinterland.
While he micromanaged implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawla Yojana to see LPG customer base more than double to 26 crore in just five years, he kept Odisha central to his political priorities and virtually drove many a project in the oil ministry he headed to the state.
A tough taskmaster, Mr Pradhan was picked to head the high-stake Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas when Prime Minister Modi first rode to power in 2014.
He overhauled controversy-riddled oil and gas sector but kept touring his home state virtually every week during the last five years, building a base for the BJP. This paid off when BJP clinched 8 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, up from just one in 2014. The BJP also improved its tally in the state assembly to 23 from 10 previously.
In 2000, Naveen Patnaik's BJD contested assembly elections in alliance with the BJP. Mr Pradhan won from Pallahara seat, news that Mr Patnaik reportedly greeted with: "Oh! I have got a problem."
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