Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Union Minister Smrithi Irani removed as Minister of Information and Broadcasting

Union Minister Smrithi Irani removed as Minister of Information and Broadcasting

With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley having successfully undergone a kidney transplant during the day in AIIMS, the late evening rejig too saw Railway Minister Piyush Goyal being given the additional charge of the Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

Goyal will hold the portfolio in addition to his charge of the Railways. In what is seen as a demotion, Smriti Irani, who courted controversies recently, has been divested of the information and broadcasting portfolio.

Minister of state for drinking water and sanitation SS Ahluwalia has been moved to the ministry of electronics & information technology (MeitY). She remains the Textile minister even as Rajyavardhan Rathore, Irani's deputy in the I&B Ministry, has been given the charge of the portfolio. Thus Piyush Goyal who has considerable experience in the concerned domain and with a contemporary outlook is a facelift for the NDA government as well. Jaitley will take over the charge after he recovers.

It also signals Prime Minister Narendra Modi's continued support for Goyal who was facing allegations related to the non-disclosure of the sale of his company to the Piramal Group, a charge that the minister has strongly rebutted. He replaces Alphons Kannanthanam at the MEITy.

In her less than 10 months as Information and Broadcasting Minister Irani allegedly held back funds for Prasar Bharati - India's largest public broadcasting agency - over a fight with the autonomous body's board of directors. There was a slew of changes made by the Modi government on the eve of Karnataka Assembly Elections Results 2018. Irani's ministry had also got involved in a tussle with Prasar Bharati over appointments. Irani had issued a press statement indicating stringent penalties for journalists -including permanent cancellation of their press accreditation cards - for publishing "fake news", but was forced to withdraw it after a rebuff from the Prime Minister's Office.

Irani took charge of the I&B Ministry in July a year ago after Venkaiah Naidu resigned following his nomination as a Vice President candidate.

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