New ministers take charge, Irani thanks Modi (Roundup)

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Smriti Irani and M. Venkaiah Naidu were among cabinet ministers who took charge of their new offices on Wednesday as most of the 19 new faces in the revamped Union Council of Ministers assumed their new assignments and spelled out their priorities.

The cabinet ministers who took charge of their new portfolios included Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Narendra Singh Tomar, Birender Singh apart from Irani and Naidu.

Smriti Irani, who was sent to the low-profile Textiles Ministry from Human Resource Development in Tuesday’s reshuffle, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for placing her in charge of a sector that has immense potential to generate employment.

Modi effected a major cabinet expansion and reshuffle on Tuesday, inducting 19 new faces while changing several portfolios.

Naidu on Wednesday took over as the new Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ananth Kumar as Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad as the minister for Law and Justice, Birender Singh of Steel and Narendra Singh Tomar of Rural Development.

Naidu told reporters that “no one” should have any reason to be unhappy over the rejig. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry was earlier with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Naidu continues to be minister of Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Naidu’s earlier portfolio of Parliamentary Affairs has been assigned to Anant Kumar.

Irani told reporters that the textile sector has a lot of “unrealized potential” in terms of skill development and employment, and added that it can play a very important role in scaling up the ‘Make In India’ vision of Modi.

She played up her achievements as Human Resource Development Minister.

“I am glad that I have been part of the process of formulating the National Education Policy after 30 years, and that the honourable Prime Minister gave me such an opportunity,” Irani said .

On persistent questioning about her being moved out of the HRD Ministry, Irani said, “There have been so many questions and so many things being said. I would only say that ‘Kuchh to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna’ (People will talk, it is their business).”

Prakash Javadekar, who is the new HRD Minister, will assume charge of his office on Thursday morning. Javadekar was the only Minister of State to be elevated to cabinet rank in Tuesday’s reshuffle.

Birender Singh, who moved from Rural Development to Steel, skirted a direct reply on his change of portfolio.

“I wish my colleague good wishes and hope the good works we started would be carried forward,” Singh said. He also said that in the last one-year-and-a-half he has revived “people’s faith” in the flagship Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Interacting with media persons after assuming office as Law Minister, Prasad said there should be comprehensive consultation before taking any stand on the Uniform Civil Code.

He said this issue should not be linked to polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Others who assumed charge of their offices included Vijay Goel, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent charge), Piyush Goyal, Ministry of Mines (Independent Charge) and Anil Madhav Dave, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge),

The Ministers of State who assumed charge of their offices included Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Ministry of Finance; Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; S.S. Ahluwalia, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; Ramdas Athawale, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment; Rajen Gohain, Ministry of Railways; Jayant Sinha, Ministry of Civil Aviation; Arjun Ram Meghwal, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs; Mahendra Nath Pandey, Ministry of Human Resource Development; Ajay Tamta, Ministry of Textiles; Anupriya Patel, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; C.R. Chaudhary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution; M.J. Akbar, Ministry of External Affairs and P.P. Chaudhary, Ministry of Law and Justice.

Oficials said many ministers assumed new responsibilities between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. apparently due to astrological reasons.

–IANS

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