Anurag Thakur (ANI photo)

Anurag Thakur, who was elevated to the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, has been handed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting portfolio as well as he has also been assigned the additional responsibility of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

With just over two weeks until the Tokyo Olympics, Anurag Thakur took over as the country's sports minister on Wednesday, replacing Kiren Rijiju. After taking oath as a cabinet minister, the 46-year-old former Cricket Board President was given responsibility for sports as well as the Information and Broadcasting ministry.

Thakur joined the Territorial Army as a regular commissioned officer in 2016, making him the first serving BJP Member of Parliament to do so. He was also the Himachal Pradesh State Cricket Association's youngest president, at the age of 25.

Thakur also served as president of the BCCI from May 2016 until February 2017. He previously served as the Board's secretary and as the president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).

Before Wednesday's cabinet reshuffle, Anurag Thakur, a member of Parliament from HP's Hamirpur constituency, was serving as the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs under Nirmala Sitharaman.

His brother, Arun Dhumal, is the BCCI's treasurer at the moment. Six ministers who have been raised to the cabinet status, including Thakur. The other promoted ministers are Rijiju, Hardeep Singh Puri, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy, and Mansukh Mandaviya.

In May 2019, Rijiju was named Minister of State for Sports, succeeding Olympic silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

Kiren Rijiju served as Minister of State for Minority Affairs before being assigned interim responsibility of the Ministry of Ayush, in addition to his Independent charge of Sports and Youth Affairs.

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

More than 120 athletes have registered for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which begin on July 23 and will be held under tight health safety standards due to the Covid-19 epidemic situation Worldwide. 

Unlike previous editions, the sports ministry chose not to send a delegation to the mega-event during Rijiju's tenure, claiming that this would assure a larger presence of the athletes' support staff.

Increased prize money for national sports award winners, rapid help for current and former athletes experiencing financial challenges, and infrastructural upgrades at various Sports Authority of India sites around the country were among Rijiju's accomplishments.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffled his Cabinet, bringing in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane, and Jyotiraditya Scindia while removing as many as 12 ministers, including Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, among others.

After taking oath as a cabinet minister, Thakur thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

"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," he tweeted.

Cricket legends Harbhajan Singh & Suresh Raina wished on the appointment of Anurag Thakur as Sports Minister of India.

Harbhajan Singh, an experienced specialist spinner, described Anurag Thakur as a 'young', 'dynamic' person who is very 'passionate' about sports and has a lot of experience in sports administration on Twitter. 'Bhajji' further stated that India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not have chosen a better sports minister.

“Young, dynamic, passionate for sports with lots of experience in sports administration. Prime Minster @narendramodi ji couldn’t have picked a better sports minister for India. Many many congrats @ianuragthakur,”  he tweeted. 

Suresh Raina, Harbhajan's former Team India and CSK teammate, described Anurag Thakur as "dynamic" and that the latter had "a lot of expertise in sports administration." Anurag Thakur is the "perfect" man to run Indian sports, according to the seasoned middle-order batsman.

“Big congratulations to @ianuragthakur sir for becoming the sports minister of India. He is energetic and has lots of experience in sport’s administration. Right man to lead Indian sports,” he tweeted.

Former cricket board president Anurag Thakur was welcomed on his appointment as Sports Minister by the Indian sporting fraternity. Wishes came in from all corners of Indian sport, with players and coaches like Rishabh Pant, PV Sindhu, Bajrang Punia, Mahesh Bhupathi, VVS Laxman, and others posting messages on social media.

Ravi Shastri, the coach of the Indian cricket team, wished Thakur well and congratulated him on being entrusted with two duties. He penned, "Great to see a former @BCCI President become the Sports Minister in the Union cabinet. Congratulations on the double whammy @ianuragthakur ji."

Indian middle order wicket-keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant wrote, "Congratulating former @BCCI president @ianuragthakur bhaiya for assuming charge as Sports Minister. These are exciting times in Indian sport, and I am sure we will scale newer heights under your leadership."

India's top-notch star shuttler, P V Sindhu also greeted Thakur and wrote, "In light of the news, I would like to thank @kirenrijiju sir for the wonderful work he's done ensuring the growth and development of sports in our nation Folded hands Hearty congratulations to @ianuragthakur sir for his appointment as Sports Minister!"

A slew of other athletes wished Thakur well on twitter

“श्री @ianuragthakur जी को केंद्रीय खेल मंत्री एवं युवा मामले मंत्री बनने पर हार्दिक बधाई एवं शुभकामनाएं।🙏🏻🙏🏻💐💐 आशा है आपके मार्गदर्शन में खेल विभाग नई बुलंदियों पर पहुंचेगा। जय हिन्द 🇮🇳 @IndiaSports @Media_SAI,” India's top level freestyle wrestler, Bajrang Punia tweeted congratulating Anurag Thakur. 

(Hearty congratulations and best wishes to Shri @ianuragthakur ji on becoming the Union Sports Minister and Youth Affairs Minister. 🙏🏻🙏🏻💐💐 Hope the Sports Department will reach new heights under your guidance. Jai Hind).

VVS Laxman, India's former middle-order batsman and international cricketer, also hailed Anurag Thakur and wrote to him, “Heartiest Congratulations to @ianuragthakur on being inducted as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. I have seen you from close quarters, administering the game of Cricket in India, and I am sure other Sports will gain from that expertise. Wishing you the Best & God Speed🤗.”

While former legendary Indian track and field athlete, PT Usha congratulated both Thakur and Rijiju for their respective appointments and wrote,“Congratulations @ianuragthakur ji on your appointment as Youth & Sports Minister & @KirenRijiju ji for being elevated to the Union Cabinet as the Law Minister. Your hard work & efforts as Sports Minister will truly reap benefits in future. Best wishes to both for the new roles!.”

Thakur began his cricket career as a player when he was 14 years old. He was the captain of the Vijay Merchant Trophy-winning Punjab U-16 team. When he was president of the HPCA, he played a Ranji Trophy match against Jammu & Kashmir in November 2000. In the 2000/2001 season, he represented Himachal Pradesh in one first-class cricket match, captaining the team in a match against Jammu & Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir were victorious by four wickets. 

Following the match, he was named chairman of the HPCA Ranji Trophy cricket team's selectors. Thakur rose through the ranks of cricketing administration groups, eventually becoming the secretary of the BCCI. Thakur was elected president of the BCCI on May 22, 2016, but he was expelled from the position in January 2017 by the Supreme Court for failing to comply with the court's orders.

Thakur, who is 46 years old, is one of India's youngest parliamentarians, having received the Best Young Parliamentarian Award in 2011.