When Smriti Irani made news as I&B minister and Narendra Singh Tomar was left out

Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Kumar Shakti ShekharJul 22, 2017 | 19:32

When Smriti Irani made news as I&B minister and Narendra Singh Tomar was left out

Two other developments took place later in the day on July 17 when former Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu was nominated as BJP-NDA’s nominee for the vice-president’s post – high profile textile minister Smriti Zubin Irani was handed over the charge of information and broadcasting ministry while rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar was given the charge of housing and urban affairs.


The portfolios of information and broadcasting, and housing and urban affairs ministries were earlier held by Naidu. He resigned as a Union minister after he was nominated as BJP’s candidate for the vice-presidential election.

While Irani getting the charge of information and broadcasting ministry was talked about for days, Tomar being assigned the charge of housing and urban affairs hardly found mention in either the mainstream or digital media.

The communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan on July 18 said:

The President of India, as advised by the prime minister, has accepted the resignation of Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, from the Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution.

pti-smriti_072217071824.jpgTomar is a far cry from the qualities Irani is known for.

Further, as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that:

(i) Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Cabinet minister, shall be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in addition to his existing portfolios; and

(ii) Smt Smriti Zubin Irani, Cabinet minister, shall be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in addition to her existing portfolio.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan mentioned Tomar’s name above that of Irani. It was because in the hierarchy of cabinet ministers, Tomar is senior to Irani. Irani is five positions lower in the Cabinet ladder on the 22nd position. In case of Naidu too, his housing and urban affairs was his primary portfolio while information and broadcasting came next.


When it came to digital media, Irani hogged the limelight.

Smriti Zubin Irani

The obvious reason behind it may be that Irani is more popular than Tomar owing to her former stint as an actress. She also has been controversial due to her educational qualifications and steep rise in the political ladder.

She changed her loyalties from being against the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to being his ardent supporter. She had threatened to sit on fast unto death in December 2004 demanding Modi’s resignation over the 2002 Gujarat riots. But she was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat itself and is considered close to PM Modi.

Irani became famous by contesting against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Though she lost to him, her appointment as a cabinet minister with the human resource development (HRD) portfolio raised many an eyebrow.

Irani also courted controversy after she spotted a camera allegedly pointing towards the trial room at a FabIndia outlet in Goa, and as the then HRD minister when Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide, allegedly over campus discrimination.

Her active participation on social media, particularly Twitter, has landed her in controversy many a time. She made news even when she was demoted to the textile ministry in the July 2016 reshuffle by Modi.


Narendra Singh Tomar

Tomar is a far cry from the qualities Irani is known for.

He is rarely found in the media's footnotes. The rural development minister does not have any desire to be in the news either. He always maintains a low profile though he is considered quite close to the RSS, BJP president Amit Shah and Modi. He is Shah’s confidante.

Tomar’s style of functioning is diametrically opposite to that of Irani.

While Irani, 41, entered politics directly from the glamour world and TV, Tomar, 60, has risen through the ranks in Parliament.

He is a two-term Lok Sabha MP from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. Besides being an agriculturist, he comes from a humble background. He started his political career in 1980 by being appointed as president of Bharatiya Janata Party Youth Forum (BJPYF), Gwalior. He was elected as a councillor in 1983 in Gwalior Municipal Corporation.

Slowly and step by step, he rose to become BJPYF’s state president in 1991, a position he held for five years.

He was elected to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly for the first time in 1998. He was elected for the second term as an MLA in 2003 and was a Cabinet minister in the then Uma Bharati government.

In 2006, he became the president of BJP’s MP unit. He enjoys a close relationship with MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan too. For five months from January 2009, he was sent to the Rajya Sabha.

However, he was elected to the Lok Sabha the same year and re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014, following which he became a Union minister in the Modi government.

He has held the portfolios of mines, steel, labour and employment, Panchayati Raj, and drinking water and sanitation besides rural development.

Now he has also been assigned the charge of housing and urban affairs.

Tomar enjoys an impeccable political track record. In so many years of his public life, he has not once courted controversy.

This also proves hardworking and honest BJP leaders albeit low profile also hold a significant place of importance in Modi’s scheme of governance.

Last updated: July 22, 2017 | 19:32
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