After Venkaiah Naidu resigned to contest for vice president post as NDA candidate, Smriti Irani was given additional charge of I&B ministry.
Articulate and never shy to court controversy, Smriti Irani was today given additional portfolio of Information and Broadcasting. Known to make the media uncomfortable, Smriti will surely use the opportunity to tighten the grip on media known to report stories with a slant.
She is also likely to crackdown on false news and videos doing the rounds on social media.
Smriti was given additional charge after Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today put in his papers after Prime Minister Narendra Modi nominated him as the vice presidential candidate of the NDA.
In another move, Narendra Tomar was made the Minister for Urban Development – the portfolio held by Naidu.
Naidu’s quitting the cabinet raises the probability of a reshuffle after the end of the monsoon session of Parliament next month. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is burdened with Defence and Environment and now Naidu’s posts too will have to get full-fledged attention.
Naidu’s nomination also shows BJP’s ambitious plans for expanding the party’s influence in the South, especially Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where it has been playing second fiddle to the TDP and TRS respectively.
Most importantly, the numbers in the Rajya Sabha continue to be unfavourable to the Modi government. While BJP’s numbers are set to improve, it will continue to face trouble in a House packed with opposition stalwarts who have made life uncomfortable for Narendra Modi.
As a seasoned hand, Naidu is likely to save some embarrassment for Modi when he comes to the Rajya Sabha. Modi has been avoiding going to the Rajya Sabha where he was, in the past, hauled up by a hungry Opposition, notably the Left and the TMC.
Naidu comes with loads of experience. He is serving his fourth term as a member of Rajya Sabha and was member of the AP Legislative assembly twice. He also functioned as the minister for parliamentary affairs under the Modi government.
When Naidu assumes office, which he is sure to do, it will mark the return of a politician to an office which was held by a career diplomat (Hamid Ansari).