Cabinet reshuffle: Smriti Irani loses I & B Ministry, Piyush Goyal steps in for Jaitley

May 15, 2018 08:36 IST
Cabinet reshuffle: Smriti Irani loses I & B Ministry, Piyush Goyal steps in for Jaitley

In a significant cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 14, 2018 gave Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore the independent charge as Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in place of Smriti Irani, current Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

In another big change, the Prime Minister gave Railway Minister Piyush Goyal the additional charge of Finance Ministry till Arun Jaitley fully recovers after his successful kidney transplant surgery on May 14.

Key Highlights

In the key move, the Union Government elevated Smriti Irani’s deputy to take over her position. Meanwhile, Irani will continue to helm the Textile Ministry.

Piyush Goyal will handle the key portfolio of Finance temporarily till Arun Jaitley recovers.

In other changes, Alphons Kannanthanam was relieved of the charge of Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

SS Ahluwalia was also relieved of the charge of the Minister of State in Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry and assigned the new portfolio of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The Controversy

Smriti Irani helmed the I& B Ministry for fewer than 10 months, as she took over the post in July 2017.

She was appointed to the position after the resignation of Venkaiah Naidu following his election to the post of Vice –President of India.

This is the second time that Irani has been moved from an important portfolio.

She was appointed Minister for Human Resource and Development in May 2014.

However, after two years she was replaced by Prakash Javedkar and given a relatively low-profile Textile Ministry.

Smriti Irani’s stint with the I&B Ministry has been quite controversial, from fights with the Prasar Bharti Board to issuing a notification on permanent cancellation of accreditation of journalists found publishing fake news, only to withdraw it later on the order of the Prime Minister’s office.


Fake News Fiasco

In March, the Union Government had amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, according to which journalists accused of publishing or spreading fake news would risk losing their accreditation permanently.

The order, which drew widespread criticism from the media, was revoked within less than 24 hours after PMO's intervention.

National Awards Controversy

  • The I & B Minister found herself again in the midst of controversy during the National Film Awards conferral ceremony when over 50 recipients of the awards skipped the ceremony.
  • The recipients were unhappy with the decision of President Ram Nath Kovind presenting the awards to only a select set of winners.
  • The controversy, widely regarded as bureaucratic mishandling, broke out when officials of the I&B ministry sought to blame the Rashtrapati Bhawan for a last-minute change in programme.
  • Out of 125 recipients this year, the President distributed the awards to only 11.
  • The I&B ministry only informed the award winners about the break in tradition and the change in programme an evening before the event.

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