The selection of M. Venkaiah Naidu as the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) vice presidential candidate has resulted in a boon for two Union Ministers-Smriti Irani and Narendra Singh Tomar.
Smriti Irani is back to shine in the league of top ministers in the Union cabinet and is expected to boost the image of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led NDA government.
Narendra Singh Tomar, known for his hard work and dedication, is back in the main stream to speed up PM Modi's several dream projects including, Smart Cities, AMRUT, HRIDAY and Swachh Bharat Mission as the new Urban Development Minister.
The 41-year-old TV actor-turned-politician Irani, the incumbent Minister for Textiles, and Tomar, currently the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, had lost their earlier high profile portfolios during a cabinet reshuffle in 2016. Irani was replaced by Prakash Javadekar as the HRD Minister and Tomar by Piyush Goyal, who was given additional charge of Minister of Mines.
Bringing her back into focus by giving the Information and Broadcasting as additional charge, Prime Minister Modi has given a sort of reprieve to Smriti Irani nearly a year after she was removed from the high-profile HRD Ministry following severe criticism after a controversy relating to her degree had surfaced.
Smriti Zubin Irani (born Smriti Malhotra) was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from the state of Gujarat and rose to the rank of Union HRD minister in 2014, following a narrow defeat against Rahul Gandhi in his home constituency of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, in the general elections.
Born in a cross-cultural middle class family in Delhi to a Punjabi father and a Bengali mother on March 23, 1976, Smriti was the eldest among three sisters.
Very few people know that to help her family financially, she started working after class 10 and earned Rs. 200 a day by promoting a beauty product. She also worked at McDonald's. But, destiny had something else in store for her. The world of glamour attracted her and she decided to break free from the middle-class norms. She started giving auditions in the entertainment industry and participated in the Miss India contest in 1998 but could not reach the finals. Finally, Irani went to Mumbai to try her luck and fortune finally decided to favour her when she got the chance to host an episode of 'Ooh La La La'. She replaced the famous actress Neelam Kothari as the show's host and since then there was no looking back for her as she had caught the eye of famous producer Ekta Kapoor. She got to play the character of Tulsi Virani in a superhit TV serial titled 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' aired on Star Plus.
As the 2019 parliamentary elections are nearing, Irani, as the fourth I&B minister in the three years of PM Modi-led NDA government, will have the challenge to boost the image of the BJP government and popularise the government's plans and schemes introduced for poor, women and all other classes of the society.
Irani was also required for defending the Modi government at a time when the opposition is trying to raise the issues related to Dalit atrocities and cow slaughtering etc. and the BJP government is finding difficulties in taking on the opposition.
Last year on 9th of February 2016, Irani had defended the government in a fiery speech in Parliament after facing the opposition's ire over her handling of the episode related to Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide.
Irani is also expected to expedite the process of formulating a national communication policy to enhance access and dissemination of information across the country and to revamp the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) or Censor Board with a new Cinematograph Act, under the I&B ministry.
In a cabinet reshuffle in 2016, Naidu had assumed the charge of I&B ministry. Before him, Prakash Javadekar held the portfolio between 2014 and 2016, followed by finance minister Arun Jaitley.
In the year 2003, Smriti Irani joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the subsequent year, she was appointed as the vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing. She contested as a BJP candidate against Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk constituency in the 2004 general elections. Though she lost the elections, the party acknowledged her hard work by appointing her as an executive member of its central committee. Irani continued to climb the ladder of success. She became the national secretary of the party and the president of the party's women's wing in 2010.
On other side, Narendra Singh Tomar has been brought to expedite the implementation of several dream projects of Prime Minister Modi such as Smart Cities, AMRUT, HRIDAY and Swachh Bharat Mission as the new Urban Development (UD) Minister. Tomar will also continue to work as Union Minister for Rural Development.
As the new Urban Development Minister, Tomar will have the challenge of faster implementation of Modi government's ambitious 'Smart Cities' project first.
"A total investment of Rs.1,44,742 crore has been proposed by the 60 cities, under their smart city plans and the speed is not, what PM wants", said a source in the ministry.
Similarly, Modi government's Rs. 50,000-crore Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme; Rs. 500- Crore the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme with a focus on holistic development of heritage cities and the Swachh Bharat Mission, aims at making urban India free from open defecation and achieving 100% scientific management of municipal solid waste in 4,041 statutory towns in the country, will be prime task for Tomar.
Under Tomar, the Urban Transport Wing of Ministry of Urban Development, which is the nodal division for coordination, appraisal and approval of Urban Transport matters including Metro Rail Projects at the central level, is also expected to get a boost.
Tomar, a second time cabinet minister in the NDA government, was born on June 12, 1957 in Morar village of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. He was born to Munshi Singh Tomar and Sharda Devi Tomar. Tomar graduated from Jiwaji University and is married to Kiran Tomar. He has a daughter and two sons. In 2003, he was the cabinet minister in the Madhya Pradesh government. Tomar has occupied various positions in the BJP and also played a key role in the party's victory in the Lok Sabha elections. He is considered a favourite of Prime Minister Modi also because he led the party win 27 Lok Sabha seats out of 29 in Madhya Pradesh with his dedication and hard work.
A politician of clean image, Tomar has never been involved in any kinds of scandals and has no criminal records in his account. Rising steadily and swiftly in his career, Tomar always shared a harmonious relationship with the RSS.
Both the ministries now held by Irani and Tomar were earlier held by Vice-Presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu, who resigned from his posts earlier in the day.