About a fortnight shy of his 56th birthday, Dharmendra Pradhan, the towering figure of Odisha BJP, staged a triumphant return to the Union Cabinet on Sunday.

His re-entry into the hallowed halls of power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aegis is not merely a routine reshuffle but a spectacle of political theatre as he became the lone warrior from Odisha to take oath as an Union minister for the third time.

Son of a doctor and former Union minister Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra was born on June 26, 1969 and gained the fame of being known as the 'Ujjwala Man' across the country.

During his tenure as a Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Pradhan was instrumental in making Modi’s PM Ujjwala Yojana successful under which the poor women were given free of cost cooking gas cylinders.

Dharmendra Pradhan has created a history for being the longest serving Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas in the history of independent India. He joined as the Minister of State (In-charge) in 2014, he was later promoted to the Cabinet rank in 2017. On May 31, 2019, Pradhan began his second consecutive tenure at the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

During his stint as an oil minister, Pradhan has led some key decisions in the hydrocarbon sector. He had brought in a new Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy, which through its uniform licensing for explorations and production of all forms of hydrocarbon, open acreage policy and marketing and pricing freedom will enhance domestic oil & gas production with substantial investment in the sector in India and generate sizable employment.

Pradhan too has reasons to smile for becoming a Union Minister for the third time in the Centre and his party forming for the first time forming a government in Odisha. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Sambalpur Lok Sabha seats after defeating the BJD stalwart and party’s organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das.

He successfully entered the Lok Sabha as a member after almost a decade. He was last elected to the Lok Sabha from Deogarh in 2004, when there was an alliance between the BJD and the BJP in the state. He lost the 2009 general elections from Parlahara and remained out of direct electoral battles. However, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice, from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

He was an ABVP cadre and a member of the Sangh Parivar, following in the footsteps of his father, Debendra Pradhan, who was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet.