Monday was an eventful day for the newly-inducted ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expanded cabinet.
Shortly after taking charge, new railways minister Suresh Prabhu took to a social networking site to express his happiness, while the lone inclusion from West Bengal Babul Supriyo — who took charge as Minister of State for urban development, housing and poverty alleviation — broke into song.
Supriyo — a singer and actor tuned politician — came attired for the occasion in a black suit and tie with a diamond stud glinting in one ear. Shortly after assuming charge at the Nirman Bhawan, he launched into a tirade against the Trinamool Congress, which is in power in West Bengal.
“There is an absolute lack of governance in West Bengal. Central funds have not been utilised. Reviewing all pending urban infrastructure project in the state and get them expedited will be among my top priorities. I will be the bridge between the Centre and the state,” Supriyo declared.
Once the formalities were complete, he started singing an old Kishore Kumar hit song, “Chala jaata hoon, kisi ki dhun mein….”.
Meanwhile, presiding over the signing of a MoU with the ministry of road, transport and highways regarding the construction of road overbridges and underbridges on national highway projects, the railways minister looked to be in a happy mood.
Referring to the fact that secretaries of the two ministers going by the surname of Pathak were signing the agreement, Prabhu said that the two “Pathaks” would help build the ‘Phaatak’ (gates at railway crossings).
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) would enable a web-based programme developed by the railway ministry for speedy clearance of various projects of road over/under bridges and level crossings.
The government plans to build 1,151 over and underbridges in the next five years at an approximate cost of `35,000 crore.
“This MoU has been an excellent and innovative idea which will go a long way in effectively resolving all the interface issues related to the construction of over and underbridges on national highway corridors. It would give a big boost to infrastructural development in the country and generation of employment,” Prabhu said.
The new rural development minister, Birender Singh, spent the day at home and will assume charge on Tuesday. Some others including Ram Shankar Katheria did not assume charge on Monday.
For new health minister Jagat Prasad Nadda, the task on hand was to fob off persistent media queries on the recent removal of AIIMS chief vigilance officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi. “I have just joined, let me settle down and understand things,” Nadda said.
The new rural development minister, Birendra Singh, spent the day at home and will assume charge on Tuesday. Some others including Ram Shankar Katheria did not assume charge on Monday.
Vijay Sampla, Minister of State in the social justice ministry, was welcomed by social justice minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot.
“I have had a humble beginning and have worked as a low paid worker and am aware of the problems of the disadvantaged sections,” Sampla said.