Union Cabinet reshuffle: Goyal gets finance portfolio; Smriti out of I&B Ministry


As part of a cabinet reshuffle, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, now minister of state for information and broadcasting (I&B), was also given independent charge of the politically crucial I&B ministry, replacing Smriti Irani, who will retain her textiles portfolio.

With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recovering from a kidney surgery, and likely to be recuperating till October, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been given additional charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries.

Modi tonight removed Irani as I&B Minister and gave the portfolio to her deputy Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in a minor but significant reshuffle of his cabinet.

In a mini-Cabinet rejig of sorts, Rajyavardhan Rathore has been made the Information and Broadcasting minister by the Modi government.

Initially, Piyush Goyal appointed as Minister of Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy. His condition is stable, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he underwent a four-hour long transplant, said in a statement. He continues to be MoS (independent charge) in the Sports Ministry. This came shortly after Kumar, the Bihar Chief Minister, left the alliance of the JD (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress in that state to tie up with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

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Another possibility, however, being discussed is that Irani's burden may have been eased so that her services are taken for poll campaigns across the key States like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh this year and the general elections next year.

Even Lok Sabha elections are held in stipulated time next year, Piyush Goyal is a ideal person to come up with a populist sensible budget which can woo voters towards BJP before the elections. After her controversial stint in the human resource development ministry, fraught with several instances of mismanagement that caused much embarrassment to the government, she was divested of the portfolio in mid-2016.

Irani's tenure as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting was marked by controversy.

In early April, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had announced action against journalists purporting "fake news" by removing the concerned journalists' accreditation, a move which was withdrawn by the PMO after criticism from the public.