Former BCCI president Anurag Thakur replaces Kiren Rijiju as new sports minister; cricketers congratulate him

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Thakur replaced Kiren Rijiju as the country’s sports minister with just over two weeks left for the Tokyo Olympics. Thakur, the 46-year-old Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur (Himachal Pradesh), was given charge of sports along with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after he took oath as a cabinet minister. He received the oath in the presence of the President of India, Shri Ramnath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“I am honoured to serve the people of India as a Union Cabinet minister and take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Sh @narendramodi ji for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Thakur tweeted.

Thakur was the president of the BCCI between May 2016 and February 2017. Before that, he was the secretary of the Board and also headed the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA). Thakur was serving as the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs under Nirmala Sitharaman before getting elevated to a cabinet minister.

His brother Arun Dhumal is currently the treasurer of the BCCI. Thakur is among the six ministers who have been promoted to the cabinet rank. Rijiju, Hardeep Singh Puri, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy, Mansukh Mandaviya are the other promoted ministers.

The cricketing fraternity and other members of the sporting community congratulated the newly appointed sports minister. India head coach Ravi Shastri led the cricketing fraternity to convey their regards to Thakur.

Rijiju was appointed as the minister of state for sports in May 2019, replacing Olympic silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Along with the Independent charge of the Sports and Youth Affairs, Rijiju also served as the minister of state for minority affairs before being given temporary charge of the Ministry of Ayush.

“Honorable Prime Minister Shri. @narendramodi heartfelt thanks. Will work dedicatedly to fulfil the thoughts and vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister to make Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ Rijiju tweeted.

More than 120 athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games which will open on July 23 amid strict health safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During Rijiju’s tenure, the sports ministry had decided against sending its delegation for the mega-event, unlike past editions, saying that it would ensure the wider presence of the athletes’ support staff.

Highlights of Rijiju’s stint included an increase in prize money for national sports awards winners, prompt assistance for current and former athletes facing financial hardships and upgrade of infrastructure at various Sports Authority of India facilities across the country.

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