Flashed Yesterday: Rajyavardhan Rathore replaces Smriti Irani as I&B Minister

Rathore had been the Minister of State at the Ministry since 2014

by exchange4media Staff
Published - May 15, 2018 8:59 AM Updated: May 15, 2018 8:59 AM

In a mini Cabinet rejig, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given independent charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) to Rajyavardhan Rathore, who was the Minister of State at the ministry. Rathore will replace Smriti Irani. Irani will, however, continue to hold the Textile Ministry.

Col Rajyavardhan Rathore (Retd.) served in the army for 23 years (1990-2013). He then took voluntary retirement from the military to join politics. He was elected to the 16th Lok Sabha from Jaipur (Rural) and sworn in as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting in November 2014, a position he held until now. Rathore also holds independent charge of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

He was the first Indian, after Independence, to win an individual silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004. He was awarded with Padma Shri, Ati Vishisth Seva Medal, Arjuna Award and Khel Ratna Award for his exceptional services to the army and sports.

Rathore is the fourth minister to have been given the charge of the Information and Broadcasting portfolio. The ministry has seen many changes since the government was formed in 2014. Before Irani, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu had also played short innings at the I&B Ministry.

Irani took charge of the I&B Ministry in July last year after Venkaiah Naidu resigned following his nomination as a Vice President candidate.
During her tenure as the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Irani courted several controversies. The latest one that evoked a lot of criticism was her decision to present the National Film Awards along with Rathore. Traditionally, the awards are presented by the President of India. Irani’s decision not only reportedly offended the awardees (more than 50 National Award winners boycotted the ceremony), but she also allegedly received criticism from the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The I&B Ministry also became the talking point recently after it was reported that Irani had stopped Prasar Bharti’s funds that led to delayed payment of salaries to Prasar Bharti and All India Radio’s employees.

Last month, the I&B Ministry issued a circular stating that journalists could lose their accreditation if found involved in fake news. The directive was widely criticised by the media and was withdrawn in less than 15 hours by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Around the same time, the I&B Ministry also announced the formation of a committee that would frame regulations for online media and online content. The committee did not have a single member from any online news portal. Following wide criticism, around 100 online journalists and editors wrote to Irani expressing concerns over her move.

This is the second time that an important ministry has been taken away from Irani. In 2016, the HRD Ministry was taken back from her amid controversies on her education qualification and the suicide of Hyderabad Central University student Rohith Vemula.

In other changes in the Cabinet, additional charge of the Finance Ministry has been given to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The decision was made as Arun Jaitley is facing health issues. Also, S S Ahluwalia was made the new Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology.

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