Dharmendra Pradhan takes over as oil minister

Tags: News
Hinting at pro-poor approach in dealing with fuel and gas price hike, new Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said energy self-reliance is a pre- requisite for the country to become an economic superpower.

The Odiya strongman, who delivered stunning victory to the BJP as the in-charge of Bihar unit, straight away got down to work after taking charge of the high-profile ministry.

Refusing to comment on any of the contentious issues like impending natural gas rate hike or the monthly diesel price increases, Pradhan instructed officials to make a detailed presentation on the critical issues facing the sector as well as pending decisions in the ministry.

"I want to study all issues in detail before I can say anything," he told reporters here. "I fully understand the challenges of this ministry."

Son of Debendra Pradhan, who was Minister of State in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Pradhan said the people have a lot of "expectations" from the Narendra Modi government.

"Modiji has dedicated this victory to the poor and has already stated that the government will work for betterment of the poor. This will be my ministry's guiding principle as well," he said.

Asked if the NDA government will go ahead with the long-delayed natural gas price hike and the monthly 40-50 paisa per litre increase in diesel prices, he said, "My government is committed to working for betterment of the poor."

He refused to elaborate saying he wants to "study the issues" first.

Pradhan, who turns 45 next month, said self-reliance in energy was a pre-requisite if the country was to become a world economic power.

Currently, India meets close to 80% of its oil needs and half of its natural gas requirement through imports.

The minister said his ministry will work in close tandem with the Finance Ministry on important economic issues.

Pradhan hails from Odisha but is a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar. The high-profile portfolio, in the rank of minister of state with independent charge, is his reward for posting BJP's sterling show in the state as general secretary in-charge.

He was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha, having won the 2004 election from Deogarh constituency in Odisha. He later moved to Bihar and was elected to the Rajya Sabha from the state in March 2012.

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