NEW DELHI: Smriti Irani triggered widespread protests and boycotts from among this year's National Film Award winners by taking upon herself the onus to give away awards except for 11 who were handed over the recognition by President Ram Nath Kovind. Irani, who in the past had also been divested of the Ministry of HRD for regularly courting controversies, had seemingly put the Modi government in a spot by coming up with her intent to punish the Press Information Bureau card holders if found to be indulging in fake news. PM Modi, within hours had directed her to withdraw the circular, which was seen as a big loss of face for the rooky minister.
Sources in the government said that Irani was further seen as an irritant for the ruling BJP after she picked up the Prasar Bharati for her bid of one-upmanship. Incidentally, the funding of the Prasar Bharati wings, including the All India Radio and DD News, was delayed with an apparent aim to put pressure on Prasar Bharati.
Irani is now left with the textile ministry. Meanwhile, Piyush Goyal has been handed over additional charge of Finance Ministry till the indisposition of incumbent Arun Jaitley. Minister of state Alphonse Kannanthanam too was divested of the charge of the ministry of Electronics and Information technology. Alphonse had once hit the headlines by advising foreign tourists to first eat beef before coming to India.
He was also seen making a crude defence of Aadhaar, claiming, “We have no problems giving fingerprints and getting naked before white men while applying for the US Visa”.
He is now left with the charge of the Ministry of Tourism. In his place, Minister of state SS Ahluwalia has been given the charge of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Incidentally, Ahluwalia had earlier been divested of the portfolio of the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs and afterwards the ministry of drinking water and sanitation.