Though ministers have relinquished their portfolios, old habits seem to continue. M Venkaiah Naidu, who took charge of the I&B Ministry, ensured that his introductory talk was peppered with his characteristic wisecracks. He started off with how, in addition to his existing role as the Urban Development Minister where he “performs, reforms and transforms”, he will now also “inform”. He ended his speech with how he will be accessible to all. “I am frank and I have Frank by my side,” he said, pointing towards Frank Noronha, who heads the Public Information Bureau.
Some ministers were in search of an auspicious moment on Wednesday. Birender Singh, who handed over the charge of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to Narendra Tomar, first ensured that he delivered the baton to Tomar by 3.30 pm at Krishi Bhawan. The two then quickly got into the same car and reached Udyog Bhawan, where Tomar handed over charge of the Steel Ministry to Singh. The reason: Singh insisted that 4 pm was the right muhurat for him to take over his new ministry. He was so particular about the designated time that he even refused to entertain any question from journalists at Krishi Bhawan regarding his new ministry, stating that all such questions would be answered at Udyog Bhawan. Similarly, Mahendra Singh Pandey, who took charge as MoS at the HRD, insisted on entering his office at 12.49 pm and wanted his chair to face the north-west direction. To meet his demands, the office staff somehow managed to position the table in a way that it looked out of place in the room.
An MoS who has been shifted from one ministry to another has complained to some RSS leaders that he was unable to make an impact in his previous department because the private secretary assigned to him was not of his choice. He has claimed that his PS, an IRS officer, is related to a senior BJP leader and was posted on the leader’s recommendation. The minister is learnt to be disturbed because the PS is now trying to be appointed in his new department as well.
Both P P Chaudhary and C R Chaudhary were sworn-in as MoS Tuesday but it is learnt that only the former’s name was in the initial list. The BJP wanted to appoint a Jat and P R Chaudhary was thought to fit the slot. But when the list was almost finalised, say insiders, it was realised that he is not a Jat but a member of the Sirvi community, an OBC group. That’s when C R Chaudhary’s name was added to the list.