Two BJP members of Parliament from Haryana - Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal Gujjar - who were on Monday administered oath of office and secrecy as ministers of state (MoS) in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, were formally allocated portfolios on Tuesday.
Gujjar (57), a first time MP from Faridabad, has been allocated the portfolio of road transport and highways, shipping as minister of state. Former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who was sworn in as a cabinet minister holds the road transport and highways, shipping portfolio.
Rao Inderjit Singh (64), who got elected to the lower house for the fourth time, has been allocated the portfolio of planning (independent charge), statistics and programme implementation (independent charge) and defence. Inderjit, who quit the Congress in February 2014 to join the BJP, was also a MoS (external affairs and defence production) in UPA-1 government.
Rao Inderjit takes charge
Rao Inderjit Singh on Tuesday took charge of ministries of planning and statistics, where he has been appointed as minister of state for independent charge.
In a rare move Rao has been given independent charge of the planning ministry meaning he would be replying to questions in Parliament and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Till now, the Prime Minister used to reply to the questions.
However, Narendra Modi will continue to be chairperson of the Planning Commission. The appointment of the deputy chairperson and new members would take some time. Whether it would come with restructured plan panel is still being deliberated.
Although Rao did not speak on the proposed restructuring of the Planning Commission, the panel was abuzz with restructuring and converting the panel into a 'think-tank' from a regulatory body on public finance.
Looking ahead, the new minister, who is Lok Sabha member from Gurgaon, said that the controversy on the poverty line was that of the last government and he would study the issue. The Planning Commission had been under attack for coming out with a low poverty line for urban and rural India.
On the priorities of the commission, Rao said, "Let me have some knowledge about this department, then only we will set the priorities…right now, the question about priorities linger in my mind too."
Before taking charge of planning, Rao held a meeting with officials of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MOSPI). He also visited the office of minister of state for defence, which as of now is under finance minister Arun Jaitley.