Mansukh Mandaviya, India’s new Health Minister, takes over the Covid fight at a critical time when the government is working on a strategy to stave off a third wave of Covid by ramping up vaccinations.
The 49-year-old, who famously rode a bicycle to parliament, is among the seven ministers promoted to the Cabinet.
As Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya visited the facilities of three vaccines being produced in India over the last six days, according to reports.
He studied veterinary science at the Gujarat Agricultural University and later completed a masters in political science.
Mandaviya began as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and rose up the ranks in the BJP. At 28, Mr Mandaviya became the youngest MLA in 2002.
In 2012, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.
He joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government first in 2016. He was Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Chemical and Fertilizers.
“Narendra Modi-ji and Amit Shah-ji have shown trust in me once again and invited me to be a part of this government. I am grateful to both of them,” he said on Wednesday.
Mandaviya’s predecessor Harsh Vardhan, who was the face of the government’s efforts to fight COVID-19, was asked to resign along with his deputy Ashwani Chaube.
Harsh Vardhan paid for the government’s massive struggle to check rising cases in the devastating second surge of Covid in April-May, when cities ran out of oxygen and hospitals were overwhelmed. India’s Covid handling drew criticism and was seen to dent the government’s image.
With inputs from NDTV