New Delhi: In a strong message to his colleagues that controversy is no substitute for good work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday removed his one-time hand-picked high-profile Smriti Irani from the crucial Human Resource Development Ministry and gave her the responsibility of the low-profile Textiles Ministry.
Irani's exit is now being viewed as a snub to the former TV actress-turned-politician, who was personally chosen by Modi to run the HRD Ministry in 2014 despite strong objections by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Unfortunately, Irani's 2-year stint as HRD Minister was marred by major controversies over protests in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in Delhi and also the students' protest over the death of scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad.
The minister, also a Rajya Sabha MP, had faced angry protests and had to dealt with campus violence from various other universities too.
The role of the RSS in getting Irani removed divested of one of the most sought after portfolios can not be ruled out as Prime Minister Modi reportedly restructured his Council of Ministers after serious deliberations with BJP chief Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Ranjanth Singh among others.
It is believed that Shah also reached out to the RSS leaders and took their inputs.
Irani's transfer to the far quieter and less prestigious Textiles department was highlighted so much that it became a top trend on Twitter and the lead point of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extensive cabinet reconfiguration.
Seeking to give a message that he is sensitive to popular will and also to the wishes of RSS leadership, Modi brought in Javadekar, originally a Pune-based politician, for the crucial responsibility of handling the HRD Ministry.
Javadekar as Environment Minister seemed to have left a positive impact on Prime Minister and the Sangh Parivar leadership with his industry-friendly moves, carrying out of 'Swachh Bharat' campaign in a mission mode and also pursuing environment diplomacy at the international level on climate change and related matters.
Javadekar is also credited with bringing the National and state Compensatory Afforestation Fund, paving the way to unlocking of nearly Rs.41,000 crore earmarked for forest land, lying unspent.
In fact after the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha on May 3 with support from major opposition parties, even Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had appreciated that the draft legislation was passed unanimously with members from different parties making their positive contribution by way of suggestions to improve the system.
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 a few members from Sangh-affiliated educational bodies reportedly often found that as HRD Minister, Smiriti Irani was not quite easy to deal with.
However, there are strong speculations that removal from HRD Ministry is not a punishment for Irani as she is being set up by the BJP for a large role - possibly that of presumptive Chief Minister - in Uttar Pradesh, which votes next year.