In a major Cabinet reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government, Smriti Irani has been shifted from HRD ministry to Textile. In her place, Prakash Javadekar, who was earlier MoS (Independent charge) for Environment has been elevated to the Cabinet rank as HRD minister.
Irani’s two year tenure as HRD minister has been full of controversies, with many questioning her educational background and capability to handle a key ministry like Human Resource Development. While her critics are having a gala time rejoicing Modi government’s decision to move her out, some are wondering whether there is more to this step than meets the eye.
As journalist Abhijit Majumder tweeted, “PM Modi still acts way beyond pundits’ predictions. Exactly why one shouldn’t write off Smriti Irani. You can’t predict where she is headed.”
Others say, Textile ministry by no means is a small one, in fact it is one of the biggest employment generators for the economy, going ahead as well. At a time when the government is being questioned for its inability to create the lakhs of jobs that it had promised, Irani’s move to Textile may be an attempt to bolster employment prospects and figures in the economy.
Modi government had recently unveiled some reforms in the textile sector, but the key Textile Policy was put on hold. One reason for that could have been the fact that Irani was being eyed to bring about that key reform.
Yet another reason that political pundits and journalists are speculating on is the likelihood of Smriti Irani being freed up for a key role (maybe even CM candidate) for the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh. Irani, who lost to Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha polls 2014, has been an active visitor to the Gandhi scion’s Amethi constituency.
“Is Smriti Irani being considered as the face for Uttar Pradesh polls by #BJP? One would imagine, hence the Textile portfolio,” wonders journalist Aditya Raj Kaul on Twitter.
With buzz doing the rounds that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be brought in to boost Congress prospects in Uttar Pradesh, Irani may well be handed the tough task of bagging the key state for her party BJP.
But as Professor Ashutosh Varshney says, “Whether or not Smriti Irani is being prepared for the UP CM candidacy, her departure from HRD can only be celebrated by professors.”