A new 'Jal Shakti' Ministry, in which the erstwhile ministries of Water Resources and Drinking Water and Sanitation will be merged, has been formed with Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at its helm.
Shekhawat took charge of the ministry on Friday, a day after he was sworn in as minister. During the election campaign, PM Modi had promised to form an integrated ministry dealing with water issues.
"All the water-related works will be merged under one ministry," Shekhawat said after taking the charge.
The ambit of the ministry will encompass issues ranging from international and inter-states water disputes, the byzantine Namami Gange project, the flagship initiative to clean the Ganges, its tributaries and sub-tributaries and provide clean drinking water.
In the first Modi government, the project to clean Ganga was moved from the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Ministry of Water Resources. With a greater push and much larger monetary allocation, the Namami Gange project was launched.
The minister said as promised in the party manifesto, the priority will be to provide clean drinking water to everyone.
Rebutting the charge that nothing was done under the Namami Gange project, Shekhawat said the Ganga river has been cleaned to a large extent and now the priority will be to clean its tributaries and sub-tributaries.
Rattan Lal Kataria will be the Minister of State in the newly formed Ministry.
After the allocation of the portfolio, Shekhawat speaking to Republic TV said, "Prime Minister Modi has always emphasized on the importance of clean water. This position is important for me because I will be able to do work for my region in Rajasthan where water is a major problem. But most importantly, water is an issue in the entire country now."
All you need to know about him:
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Jodhpur Parliamentary constituency in 2014 and was made the minister of state for agriculture and farmers' welfare in September 2017. The BJP leader was appointed as the convener of the election committee for the assembly election in the state, which the BJP lost.
In the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the 51-year-old had defeated Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav Gehlot in Jodhpur by over 2.7 lakh votes. Ashok Gehlot had represented the constituency five times since 1980.
"It is an election between the CM's son and a common man's son," Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had told during the election campaign.
As an MP, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat contributed to the development of the civil airport of Jodhpur city, which is also known as the 'blue city', and expansion of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Known for his oratory skills and popular in his constituency, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is often fondly referred to as "Gajju banna".
It is also well known that the two-time MP has strained relations with former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. He was once in the running for the post of the BJP's state president. But, amid strong opposition from Vasundhara Raje, he lost out to Madan Lal Saini.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat made his debut in politics as the president of the Jai Narain Vyas University student union in 1992. He remained closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the region, especially in the border areas of Barmer and Jaisalmer. However, Raje took to Twitter to congratulate him for selection in the Cabinet.
(With PTI inputs)