Piyush Goyal to handle Finance Ministry until Arun Jaitley recovers

Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal and Rajyavardhan Rathore

In a Cabinet reshuffle late last evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assigned the Information and Broadcasting portfolio to Rathore replacing Smriti Irani.

Irani's tenure as the union minister of Information and Broadcasting was full of controversies and gaffes.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the MoS in the I&B ministry, has been assigned the charge of the I&B ministry. She had earlier been moved out of the human resource development ministry and shifted to textile ministry.

With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recovering from a kidney surgery, and likely to be recuperating till October, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been given additional charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries.

President Kovind's office also said SS Ahluwalia, who was the junior minister for drinking water and telecom, will be the minister of state for the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.

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The Information and Broadcasting Ministry "guidelines to regulate fake news" had caused widespread outrage among media organisations and much to the embarrassment of the NDA government the guidelines were withdrawn after the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the optics seems bad in a major portfolio as Mr Goyal was a minister of state till not long ago.

BJP president Amit Shah and Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Jitender Singh visited AIIMS to see Jaitley after the surgery.

Irani is now left with the textile ministry. Government sources said PM Modi was in touch with Jaitley's family and had been getting updates on his health through the day.

In the same reshuffle, Goyal had been asked to take care of the railways portfolio after his performance as the power minister received praise. In fact, both Rajnath and Sitharaman had to lose their familiar information officers because of Irani's assertion that posting information officers was her "ultimate prerogative". Even before the dust settled on the "fake news" row, Irani announced her ministry's decision to constitute a committee to frame rules to regulate news portals and media websites, once again leading to concerns over attempts to gag free press.

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