Mansukh Mandaviya Appointed New Sports Minister; Raksha Khadse Named MoS

Mansukh Mandaviya, new Sports Minister of India (X)

Mansukh Mandaviya, new Sports Minister of India (X)

Additionally, Raksha Khadse, a three-time BJP MP from Maharashtra’s Raver, was made Minister of State (Sports) under Mandaviya.

Mansukh Mandaviya, who served as the union health minister at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, was on Monday appointed as India’s new sports minister, replacing Anurag Thakur in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

The 52-year-old Mandaviya won the Porbandar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat by defeating his nearest Congress rival Lalit Vasoya by a margin of 3.83 lakh votes.

Simultaneously, Mandaviya was also given charge of the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers in the new cabinet unveiled on Monday.

Additionally, Raksha Khadse, a three-time BJP MP from Maharashtra’s Raver, was made Minister of State (Sports) under Mandaviya.

The 37-year-old Raksha is the daughter-in-law of Eknath Khadse, an NCP leader of the Sharad Pawar faction who has decided to switch back to the BJP.

She won the 2024 Lok Sabha election by nearly 3 lakh votes, defeating her nearest rival Shriram Patil from the NCP-Sharad Pawar faction.

Her husband, Nikhil Khadse, died in 2013.

Mandaviya was entrusted with the health portfolio in the middle of 2021 when the country was battling the COVID-19 crisis. At that time, he had replaced Dr Harsh Vardhan, who was dropped from the Council of Ministers as part of a reshuffle.

Mandaviya’s ministry was then tasked with ramping up the supply of oxygen and medicines and overseeing the vaccination programme during the severe second wave of COVID-19. In the newly sworn in government, the health ministry has been given to J P Nadda.

The just-concluded polls were Mandaviya’s first Lok Sabha election. He was born in Bhavnagar on June 1, 1972.

Before being nominated as a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, he had won as an MLA from Palitana assembly seat of Bhavnagar district in 2002.

The outgoing Thakur was among the 37 ministers dropped from the third successive Modi government. Thakur held the post since July 7, 2021 serving as the sports minister for nearly three years.

India achieved its best-ever performance at the Olympics during his tenure, winning a record seven medals in the Tokyo Games barely a few weeks after he took over the ministry from Kiren Rijiju following a reshuffle.

He was also at the helm of affairs when the government decided to make medal winners in all Khelo India competitions eligible for government jobs after a revision in criteria.

When this was announced in March, Thakur said the move was in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “vision of a robust sports ecosystem, nurturing talent at grassroots level and turning sports into a lucrative and viable career option.”

During Thakur’s tenure as the sports minister, India also started making a pitch to launch an ambitious bid to host the 2036 Olympic Games for the first time ever.

Bullish about India securing the hosting rights, Thakur has always maintained that a part of the credit for the country’s improving sporting performances goes to the government’s flagship Khelo India initiative, which was launched in 2017 and gets a lion’s share of budgetary allocation.

Thakur, who began his political career in 2008 and has represented the Hamirpur constituency in Himachal Pradesh five times, had also reckoned the country will be among the top-five medal winning nations in the world sooner than later.

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