|NEW DELHI, May 14(Agencies): Union minister Smriti Irani was moved out of the crucial Information and Broadcasting ministry in a reshuffle of the cabinet this evening. The portfolio will now be fully handled by Rajyavardhan Rathore, who was the junior minister in the department.|
Irani was given the vital Information and Broadcasting portfolio as an additional charge last July when Venkaiah Naidu resigned after emerging as NDA's pick for the post of the vice-president. She will retain charge of the textiles ministry which she has been handling since July 2016.
A communique from the office of President Ram Nath Kovind said Railways minister Piyush Goyal will also handle Finance Ministry till Arun Jaitley, who underwent a kidney surgery today, recovers.
President Kovind's office also said SS Ahluwalia, who was the junior minister for drinking water and telecom, will be the minister of state for the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. He replaces Alphons Kannanthanam, who will retain charge of tourism ministry.
The last big reshuffle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet took place in September, when Nirmala Sitharaman was given charge of the defence portfolio and Piyush Goyal took over Railways from Suresh Prabhu.
This is the second time that Irani has been moved from a key ministry. The 42-year-old, who started as the Human Resource Development Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, was transferred to the Textiles Ministry, seen as a less glamourous assignment, in 2016.
The transfer came after several controversies during her two-year tenure, including anger across campuses after Dalit student Rohith Vemula killed himself in Hyderabad after alleging persecution by university officials over his caste.
Notably, the latest development comes more than a month after the Irani-led I&B Ministry, following orders from the PMO, withdrew its press release which stated that journalists who “created” or “propagated” fake news would have lost their accreditation with the government. The guidelines drew sharp reaction from the opposition Congress and journalists.
After the Modi government came to power in 2014, Irani’s educational qualifications, or the lack of it, made national headlines. In a submission to the Election Commission, Irani claimed she completed her BA in 1996 through a long-distance or correspondence program from the University of Delhi. However, in 2014, Irani claimed she had secured a commerce degree from the School of Open Learning, Delhi University.
She also had claimed to have secured a degree from Yale University, but it transpired that she had only attended a week-or so-long programme under the India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program.
Recently, during the national award ceremony, most filmmakers boycotted the event after they got to know that the awards will be presented to them by Irani and not President Ram Nath Kovind, as has been the tradition.
News Updated at : Tuesday, May 15, 2018