New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) From holding forth on Climate Change at international fora to becoming incharge of the more humble Human Resource Development ministry – for Prakash Javadekar the change has been sudden, despite his happy elevation as cabinet minister.
On Monday, Javadekar, who was in Berlin, was stressing on India’s stand at the Seventh St Petersburg Dialogue on climate change, on the need for countries to take pre-2020 climate actions to curb emissions. He also sought cooperation among countries in finance and technology sectors to tackle climate change.
Javadekar, who was representing India as Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge) in Berlin, was, in his own words, asked to rush back immediately by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Javadekar, the only minister in Modi’s Council of Ministers to be promoted, received a phone call from Prime Minister Modi asking him to “reach Delhi immediately”.
“I was abroad when Prime Minister called up and told me about it. He asked me to reach Delhi immediately,” a beaming Javadekar told reporters at Rashtrapati Bhavan after the ceremony.
Javadekar, who was earlier slated to return to Delhi on July 6, said he had to change flights to arrive on time.
“I was away abroad and there was no direct flight to Delhi from there, but I reached here by changing a flight from Abu Dhabi,” he said.
Javadekar has invited criticism for supporting the culling of animals and also been criticised by environmentalists who don’t see him as environment friendly or sensitive to concerns. He had led India at the Paris climate change talks last year.
For Smriti Irani, who was divested of the Human Resource Development ministry where her every comment made news, her new portfolio of textiles is not considered eye-ball grabbing by any yardstick.
Giving a clear message that controversy is no substitute to good works, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday removed his one-time handpicked high profile Irani from the crucial HRD ministry and gave her the responsibility of a low-profile Textiles ministry.
This is a clear snub as Irani, a Rajya Sabha member, was personally chosen by Modi to run the HRD ministry in 2014 despite the move getting red flagged by the Rashtriya Sawemsewak Sangh (RSS).
The role of RSS in getting former TV actress-turned-politician Irani from the Sangh’s one of the sought after portfolio is not ruled out as the Prime Minister carried out the exercise after repeated consultations with BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley among others.
Shah reportedly reached out to RSS leaders an took their inputs.
In contrast to Javadekar, Smriti Irani has been mostly in controversies either against Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left leaders besides occasional skirmishes with the Sangh Parivar elements.
Besides found engaging in heated exchange of words with opposition members in Parliament, Irani did not quite go well with RSS leaders too.
Sources said during their both formal and informal consultation process, RSS leaders along with few members from Sangh-affiliated educational bodies reportedly often found that as the HRD Minister, Smiriti Irani was not quite easy to deal with.
In her two years as HRD minister, Irani stirred up numerous controversies, including because of her reported high-handed behaviour with university vice chancellors and professors.
The latest controversy under her watch – the death of Dalit student Rohith Vemula and jailing of Jawaharlal Nehru University students leader Kanhaiya Kumar – dented the image of the Narendra Modi government.
The death of PhD scholar Vemula in Hyderabad University and the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar kicked up a storm, and Irani’s handling of the two issues came in for criticism. The controversy also led to the intolerance debate, and many prominent writers and artistes began to return awards they had received from the government in protest.
Her over-zealous pitch for patriotism during the JNU issue prompted the Opposition to label her ‘Aunty national’.
The decision of the HRD ministry to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas in October 2014 turned into a major diplomatic issue.
The ministry was embroiled in a row in December 2014 when the Navodaya Vidyalayas were ordered to observe December 25 as Good Governance Day, which required the students to be present in school on a holiday.
Under attack, Irani clarified that the presence of students in school that day was voluntary.
Her own educational qualifications were also questioned after she took charge of the HRD Ministry two years ago.
She had also claimed to have a degree from Yale University, which the university denied, saying she had only attended a week-long programme.