Pradhan brings his own packed lunch to the office

Vol 17, PW 23 (03 Jul 14) People & Policy

Dharmendra Pradhan was quick off his feet when news broke of a horrific gas explosion at Nagaram village in Andhra Pradesh on June 27.

Within hours the oil minister was on location in the East Godavari district with the families of 19 victims. This, say ministry sources, is how Pradhan wants to position himself: a man of the people, friend of the common man.

"Most think the oil ministry belongs to big corporations," says a source. "Pradhan wants to change that.

" Another tactic employed by 45-year old Pradhan is to personally accompany inspectors on surprise visits to petrol and LPG stations checking for contaminated fuel, long the scourge of honest motorists. But cynics say his real challenge is yet to come: winning public support for an increase in the wellhead price of gas, deferred until October 1.

"He's new to the ministry and spends a lot of time reading to understand the subject," adds a frequent visitor. “He starts his day early but ends late.

” Pradhan doesn’t use a flashing red VIP siren on his car, the gimmick of choice for anyone in government who wants to look important. Nor does he spend money on smart restaurants, preferring a packed lunch from home.

A BJP party worker tells us Pradhan has his priorities right. On his birthday (June 26) he kept ONGC chairman DK Sarraf and GAIL chairman BC Tripathi waiting for an hour while he spent time with party workers.