Among the changes in the key economic ministries after Tuesday’s Cabinet reshuffle, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has been moved out of the Communications portfolio as he has been handed over the responsibility of the Law and Justice ministry, alongside the ministries of Electronics & IT.
Even though the Communications ministry, under Prasad’s ministership, cleared key pending proposals such as spectrum sharing, trading and harmonisation, among others, Prasad has been moved out before the upcoming spectrum auctions later this year.
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Minister of State Manoj Sinha getting the sole charge of the Communications portfolio indicates that there would be no Cabinet rank minister in the department from which the government has budgeted total revenue worth Rs 98,995 crore in 2016-17, of which Rs 55,000 crore has been pegged from spectrum auctions.
Among other important changes in economic ministries, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha has been moved to civil aviation as MoS, taking over from Mahesh Sharma.
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Sinha, who is one of the key initiators for the proposed National Infrastructure Investment Fund, will now join the new ministry at a time when the Cabinet cleared the National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016.
He may have to use his skills honed in the finance ministry to make government’s ambitious regional connectivity scheme — which seeks to connect unserved cities with flights at an all inclusive fare of Rs 2,500 — successful.
With the exit of Jayant Sinha as Minister of State for Finance, the finance ministry will see two new faces at the level of Minister of State — Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Arjun Ram Meghwal.
1948-born Gangwar, who held the post of textiles minister, has been unbeatable since 1991, having won all elections except in 2009. A representative of the farming community of Kurmis that holds influence between Bareilly and Pilibhit, Gangwar’s elevation is important in view of the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Meghwal, the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, is a former bureaucrat turned politician from Bikaner.
An MBA from University of Philippines, the 61-year-old was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 from Bikaner constituency.
Meghwal, who is famous for riding a cycle to Parliament during sessions and who even came for the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday on his cycle, has been a member of various parliamentary committees including on defence, science and technology, environment & forest, personnel, public grievances and law & justice.
Piyush Goyal, the minister in charge of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, has got additional charge of the mines ministry.