New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to entrust Dharmendra Pradhan, Mansukh Mandaviya and Bhupender Yadav -- all three considered confidants of the BJP top brass --with key portfolios of education, health and labour is aimed at bolstering his government's social development agenda and ensuring effective delivery of policy benefits to the ground level, sources said on Thursday.
While Pradhan and Mandaviya have been part of the Modi government since its first term, Yadav joined it only on Wednesday but what connects them is the confidence they have long enjoyed of the party's leadership in a variety of roles for their ability to deliver in a low-key manner without drawing any negative attention.
The three leaders have replaced Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Harsh Vardhan and Santosh Gangwar, all of whom were considered not up to the challenges at hand in their respective ministries.
The three portfolios also enjoy a massive interface with citizens, and any negative development risks the government public goodwill, prompting Prime Minister Modi to hand them over to these seasoned leaders known for their organisational acumen with two of them bringing vast administrative experience as well, sources noted.
As ministers took charge of their respective ministries a day after the biggest ever reset of his ministerial team by Modi, BJP and government sources said a key focus area going forward for the government area would be ensuring a big boost to sustainable and social development of the country, in addition to the economic growth, especially in the wake of the continuing fight against the COVID pandemic and its subsequent impact in areas like education, labour and well-being of the people.
The first official engagement of the prime minister after the reshuffle also indicates towards the priorities of the government going forward, a source said, referring to Modi's interaction with directors of centrally-funded technical institutions including IITs earlier in the day during which Pradhan, the new Minister of Education, was also present.
Addressing over 100 heads of institutions during this interaction, Modi said we need to focus on developing futuristic solutions in fields of education, healthcare, agriculture, defence, and cyber technologies.
At the same event, Pradhan said, 'We are committed to making students and the youth the primary stakeholders in propelling India towards an equitable knowledge society.' Asked about the main takeaways from the reshuffle, a senior party leader who has been assigned a key portfolio himself, said the three focus areas of the entire exercise has been health, education and labour and incidentally these are also the areas in which the government has been facing a lot of criticism in the recent past in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the inter-linked issues affecting migrants and the education sector.
The leader said the prime minister has sought to bolster the government's works in the areas of education, health and labour by entrusting three key partymen known for their organisational skills within the BJP and also within the government in case of two of them (Pradhan and Mandaviya) in their earlier portfolios.
'It is clear from the changes that have taken place regarding senior ministers that a key focus of the government will be on social development going forward,' another leader said, referring to changes in ministries like Labour, Education, Health, Social Justice and Empowerment and Telecom, Information Technology and Law.
'All these ministries have been in news for one or another reason for the last one year and at times, these have wrong reasons,' he added.
Pradhan, who previously handled Petroleum and Steel portfolios, has been now made Minister of Education; and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
He would be assisted by Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship as a Minister of State.
After taking charge, Pradhan said he is looking forward to work together with Chandrasekhar to further give impetus to entrepreneurship and fulfil Prime Minister Modi's vision of making India the skill capital of the world.
Mandaviya has been given the charge of the all-important Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while he will also have the portfolio of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
In his first ministerial assignment, Bhupender Yadav has been given two very important ministries -- Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Ministry of Labour and Employment.
After taking charge of his ministries, Yadav said his aim would be to realise Prime Minister Modi's vision for India's growth and sustainable development.
Mandaviya said he is determined to serve the people tirelessly towards realising the prime minister's vision for a healthy India.
Soon after the new ministers took oath last evening, Modi said, 'I congratulate all the colleagues who have taken oath today and wish them the very best for their ministerial tenure. We will continue working to fulfil the aspirations of the people and build a strong and prosperous India.' The Council of Minister now has 11 women members including two with Cabinet rank, while there are 14 ministers below the age of 50 years including six in Cabinet. There are 13 lawyers, 6 doctors, 5 engineers, 7 civil servants, 7 PhDs and 3 MBAs.
Among other key changes, Virendra Kumar, a veteran BJP leader serving his seventh term as MP, has been given charge of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, while another senior leader Giriraj Singh has been entrusted with Rural Development Ministry.
Also, Home Minister Amit Shah has been given charge of the newly-created Cooperation Ministry, which is also likely to play a key role in furthering the Modi government's social development agenda going forward. PTI KR/BJ BJ BJ