DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday replaced Union Minister for information and broadcasting Smriti Irani with her deputy Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Besides her, PM has also allocated the senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley ‘s portfolios to Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS on Monday.
Rathore emerged as a gainer, Irani (who earlier was stripped of the HRD Ministry) lost out again in the reshuffle along with Alphons Kannanthanam, who too was eased out of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation SS Ahluwalia was relieved of the charge and assigned the portfolio held by Alphons, who will though continue as the Minister of State for Tourism.
It seems, Rathore was elevated in view of the upcoming elections in Rajasthan — a state he represents in the Lok Sabha. BJP chief Amit Shah is said to be at loggerheads with incumbent CM Vasundhara Raje. Rathore, “who is quite popular among youth”, is being groomed for a bigger job, they claim.
As the I&B Minister, Irani remained embroiled in a number of controversies. The most recent was the one surrounding National Film Awards when several winners skipped the ceremony after it was announced that President Ram Nath Kovind would felicitate just a few. Kovind was said to be “very unhappy” with the way it was handled.
Before that, a directive from her ministry on cracking down on fake news had led to a massive outrage. Faced with criticism, the PM had to ask the ministry to cancel the contentious guidelines perceived as the government’s attempts at “muzzling” freedom of Press. She was also embroiled in a row with the Prasar Bharati board and certain postings in Indian Information Service (IIS) where officers flagged “discrepancies and shortcomings” in the transfer orders executed “without consulting the heads of the media units”.