Dharmendra Ujjwala Man who helped BJP make inroads in Patnaiks citadel

first_imgNew Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Almost two decades back when he was a little-known figure and was contesting his maiden MLA election, his party’s poll ally and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik saw in him a potential threat. A threat that did come true when Dharmendra Pradhan helped build a groundswell for BJP that broke into Patnaik’s citadel in 2019.Son of former union minister of state for surface transport, Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra steered 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. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoCWhile 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, 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. BJP also improved its tally in the state assembly to 23 from 10 previously. Back in 2000, Patnaik’s BJD contested assembly elections in alliance with the BJP. Pradhan won from Pallahara seat, news that Patnaik reportedly greeted with, ‘Oh! I’ve got a problem’. Pradhan was little known then and was just an activist of the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and a former student union leader of Utkal University.last_img

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