Modi’s cabinet rejig message: Controversy no substitute for good work | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Modi’s cabinet rejig message: Controversy no substitute for good work

Giving a clear message that controversy is no substitute for good work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday removed his one-time handpicked high-profile Smriti Irani from the crucial Human Resource Development Ministry and gave her the responsibility of the low-profile Textiles Ministry.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2016 12:31 IST
Narendra Modi
HRD Minister Smriti Irani with new Cabinet minister Prakash Javadekar after a Cabinet meeting at South Block in New Delhi on Tuesday.(PTI)

Sending out a clear message that controversy is no substitute for good work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday removed his one-time favourite minister Smriti Irani from the helm of the crucial human resource development (HRD) ministry in favour of cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar.

Irani was given the relatively low-profile textiles ministry instead.

Read: Irani shifted to textiles ministry, Javadekar is new HRD minister

This is being viewed as a major snub to Irani, a Rajya Sabha member who was personally chosen by Modi to run the HRD ministry in 2014 despite opposition from parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

However, Irani’s stint was marred by major controversies, including protests on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in Delhi and the students’ agitation over the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad.

The RSS’ role in getting the former TV actor-turned-politician divested of one of the most sought-after portfolios was not ruled out, considering that the Prime Minister had carried out the exercise after repeated consultations with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley - among others. Shah had reportedly reached out to RSS leaders for their inputs.

Read: Irani shifted to textiles ministry, Javadekar is new HRD minister

By bringing in Javadekar as the HRD minister, Modi seeks to impress upon the people that he is sensitive to popular will as well as the wishes of the RSS leadership. As environment minister, the Pune-based politician seemed to have left a positive impression on both Modi and the Sangh Parivar leadership. He is credited with making industry-friendly moves, carrying out the Swachh Bharat campaign in a mission mode and pursuing environment diplomacy on climate change at the international level.

Read: Cabinet reshuffle: Portfolios of Modi’s ministers

Javadekar is also credited with bringing in the National and state Compensatory Afforestation Fund, and paving the way to unlocking nearly Rs 41,000 crore earmarked for forest land.

In contrast, Irani had been wading from one controversy to another - picking fights with the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left parties and, occasionally, even Sangh Parivar elements. Her heated exchanges with Opposition members in Parliament didn’t seem to have gone down well with RSS leaders either.

According to sources, RSS leaders and members of affiliated groups often found Irani hard to deal with during both formal and informal consultation processes.

Nineteen new faces were inducted into the Union council of ministers and a few high-profile portfolios were reshuffled in the first major exercise of the sort since Modi assumed office in May 2014.