Union Minister Smriti Irani who lost the Human Resource and Development (HRD) portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle, assumed charge as Textiles minister on Wednesday afternoon.
Soon after assuming office, Irani further fueled speculations as to why PM Modi chose to remove her from the crucial HRD Ministry to head the less significant Textiles Ministry.
On being asked if she was going to be the face of BJP in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls early next year, Irani quoted a popular Bollywood song, “Kuch toh log kahenge…logo ka kaam hai kehna…”
She also cheekily told hordes of mediapersons present at the ministry that it was for the first time that the media had turned up in such huge numbers at the Textiles Ministry.
Irani, who was mired with controversy in her two-year tenure as HRD Minister, jokingly said that no matter where she is moved, the media will continue to follow and track her.
According to analysts, Irani’s exit from HRD ministry was based on two factors. One, the controversies during her tenure and two, a perception within the party that her performance was below par.
Irani battled several controversies in her two-years of heading HRD. She faced flak over dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad Central University. Not just that, the JNU row where students were slapped with sedition charges also made a lot of controversy. She was also accused of saffornising education.
However, on the other hand, some analysts believe that Irani may have been set aside for a larger role in UP polls, a question she cheekily bypassed while addressing the media.
Meanwhile, Prakash Javadekar will formally take over as HRD Minister on Thursday. He is the lone minister to have been promoted to a cabinet rank in the big rejig.
Javadekar, who was until now MoS (independent charge), Environmental Policies said he will “dutifully” discharge the responsibility given to him.
“This is more responsibility and I will do it dutifully,” Javadekar said after being elevated to cabinet rank.
On his new portfolio, Javadekar said education was not a subject for “party politics”.
He also praised Smriti Irani’s two-year tenure as HRD Minister.
“I will build upon the several good initiatives taken up by Smriti Irani…I want to assure all the teachers across the country that we all will chalk out the road map of India’s new eductation policy and education has to be student-centric…I value everyone’s opinion and at the same time we will have a larger discussion on it. My doors will be open for any suggestion,” Javadekar said.
PM Modi inducted 19 new faces as Ministers of State in the cabinet with an eye on assembly polls which are scheduled early next year. The 19 new faces include a number of dalit and OBC leaders.
Meanwhile, the Congress reacted to the cabinet rejig and called it a ‘vote garnering exercise’.
“…It’s a panic reaction against declining political graph of BJP in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat…It has nothing to do with improving lives of 125 crore Indians or providing a government dedicated to the cause of solving their problems,” said Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
(With inputs from PTI)