Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal will temporarily take additional charge of the finance ministry until Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recovers after undergoing a kidney transplant, the country's president said in statement on Monday. Alphons Kannanthanam relieved of charge of MoS in Ministry of Electrionics and Information Technology. The Olympic medallist, who was closely engaged with the Indian squad which participated in the Commonwealth Games and also served as junior minister in I&B, will now hold full scale charge of the ministry. The announcement means that Smriti Irani has been sidelined as I&B minister. She was earlier removed has HRD Minister and offered the charge of Textiles which she still continues to hold.
The odds appeared to have lengthened further against her after her recent run-in with Rashtrapati Bhavan over the handling of the national film awards function. Following an outcry that the move was akin to muzzling the free press, PM Narendra Modi had to step in and ask the I&B Ministry to scrap the contentious guidelines on fake news. The I&B ministry had led the winners to believe they will all receive their awards from President Rajnath Kovind, while the Rashtrapati Bhavan had made it clear he would not do that, nearly a month before the awards function. Things came to such a pass that her senior ministerial colleagues began to feel that they could no longer trust the Irani's assurances.
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. Mr Goyal, who is in charge of Railways, will have finance as an additional charge. They said Modi was in touch with Jaitley's family to get updates on his health throughout the day.