Smriti Irani, who had come under heavy fire in the controversies surrounding the suicide of Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula and the sedition row at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), will now take charge as Textiles Minister. Irani has arguably been the most controversial member in PM Modi's cabinet and have been facing backlash on social networking sites ever since she sworn in.
Prakash Javadekar, who was promoted as Cabinet minister in the expansion, will be the new Human Resources Minister (MHRD). But it was Smriti Irani's removal from HRD ministry that's been trending thanks to her obsession with yoga, school text books, and IITs. Irani's departure from the HRD comes during a crucial time when the New Education Policy is underway.
According to one senior political analyst, "There was too much noise and appointments were attracting too much criticism...things had to be done with more political adroitness". "Her tendency to get into spats was totally in contrast with how the leadership wanted senior ministers to conduct themselves", feels the political analyst.
The announcement of portfolios for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new-look Cabinet that came, also saw some big portfolio changes among the existing ministers, 19 new faces had been sworn in as ministers by President Pranab Mukherjee. This was the second major reshuffle of the Modi government. The move has also expanded the Council of Ministers in an exercise that government sources have said is aimed at bringing in "doers and performers" into the government.
The other portfolio allocations include Sadananda Gowda moved to Statistics and Programme Implementation from Law and Justice. Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has held the Telecom portfolio, will now be the Law Minister. Venkaiah Naidu will take charge as the new Information and Broadcasting Minister, a portfolio that has so far been held as additional charge by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Taking over from Naidu for the battles to come as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs will be Ananth Kumar, who has been the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers since the Modi government took charge in 2014. Vijay Goel will be the other Cabinet rank appointment, as the Sports Minister.
With key state elections set to be held over the next two years, five of the 19 ministers of state inducted are part of the electorally crucial scheduled caste (SC) community, two are from scheduled tribes (STs) and one from other backward classes (OBC). Seventeen of the 19 belong to the BJP, while the remaining two are from National Democratic Alliance members Apna Dal and Republican Party of India (Athawale).