Who is Mansukh Mandaviya — the unexpected sports minister in PM Narendra Modi’s cabinet

Mansukh Mandaviya defeated his Congress rival Lalit Vasoya by 3.83 lakh votes at the 2024 General Elections to win the Porbandar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat.
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Mansukh Mandaviya was appointed the new Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs as the new cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was announced on Monday. Mansukh Mandaviya replaces Anurag Thakur as the Union Sports in the new cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mansukh Mandaviya defeated his Congress rival Lalit Vasoya by 3.83 lakh votes at the 2024 General Elections to win the Porbandar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat. Apart from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Mansukh Mandaviya was also assigned the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

Who is Mansukh Mandaviya?

Mansukh Mandaviya was born on 1 June, 1972 in Hanol, a small village in Palitana taluk of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat. Mandaviya first entered politics after he became a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), BJP’s student wing. He was the secretary of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Patilana from 1994 to 1996. Between 1998 and 2003, Mandaviya was also the Taluka president of BJP’s Patilana unit.

He was a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from 2002 to 2007. Between January 2011 and March 2012, he was the chairman of Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. In 2012, Mandaviya was first elected to the Rajya Sabha and six years later, in 2018, he was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2018.

In 2021, Mandaviya was assigned with the health portfolio when India was fighting a tough battle against COVID-19. 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 JP Nadda.

The just-concluded polls were Mandaviya’s first Lok Sabha election. 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-5 medal winning nations in the world.

With PTI inputs

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