After a string of controversies involving the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on Monday evening divested Smriti Irani of the portfolio and elevated junior minister under her, Col. (retd.) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. He is the new Minister of State with independent charge of the Ministry.
Piyush Goyal given Finance
The change in the I&B Minsitry is part of a mini-reshuffle in the Cabinet effected by the Mr. Modi, who has assigned the vital Ministry of Finance to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, till Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley fully recovers from the successful kidney transplant surgery on Monday.
Ms. Irani helmed the Ministry for fewer than 10 months. She had replaced Venkaiah Naidu, who resigned after he was elected to the post of Vice-President of India. This is the second time that Ms. Irani has been divested of an important portfolio. She was appointed Minister for Human Resource and Development in May 2014. After a little over two years, she was replaced by Prakash Javedkar. She remained away from the limelight handling the relatively obscure Ministry of Textiles for over a year before getting I&B in July last.
Ms. Irani’s stint at the I&B was controversial — from fighting with the Prasar Bharti Board to issuing a notification on “ fake news ”, which was eventually withdrawn at the behest of the PMO. The latest row involved the President of India regarding the National Film Awards ceremony.
“The government was fed up with constant controversies generated by her,” a top functionary in the government told The Hindu , adding that “the government felt embarrassed at every controversy she created.” After the awards function row, the Rashtrapati Bhavan conveyed to the PMO its unhappiness at the manner in which the office of the President was dragged into a controversy.
In April last, the Prime Minister directed that the press release on ‘fake news’ be withdrawn, and that the matter should be addressed only in the Press Council of India. The press release was issued by the I&B Ministry, which had amended the guidelines and sought to punish journalists by cancelling their accreditation if found circulating fake news.