New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu was today given the additional charge of the Civil Aviation Ministry. The Civil Aviation Minster’s post had fallen vacant after Ashok Gajapati Raju quit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers.
Raju and fellow Telegu Desam Party (TDP) leader YS Chowdary quit the Modi cabinet after their party chief announced his decision to leave the National Democratic Alliance government over their demand that Andhra Pradesh be given a Special Category Status. The TDP, however, has not quit the NDA entirely.
Today, the Rashtrapati Bhavan confirmed that Prabhu has been given the additional charge of the aviation portfolio. “As advised by the Prime Minister, President Kovind has directed that Shri Suresh Prabhu, Cabinet Minister, shall be assigned charge of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, in addition to his existing portfolio,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The communique suggested that Prabhu’s appointment as Civil Aviation Minister was not interim. As Civil Aviation Minister, Prabhu’s most pressing concern will be the disinvestment of national carrier Air India.
The TDP, this week, quit the Modi Cabinet after a days of speculation that the party, which is the NDA’s third-largest constituent, would leave the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance.
The government, while promising Andhra Pradesh financial support, has refused to grant its demand for a Special Category Status, citing Constitutional hurdles.
Prabhu has previously served as the Railways Ministers. He was reassigned to the Commerce Ministry during last year’s Cabinet reshuffle. Prabhu’s reassignment (Piyush Goyal took over the Railways Ministry duringt the Cabinet reshuffle) followed a number of high-profile accidents on the Indian Railways.
In the aftermath of the accidents, Prabhu had suggested that he had offered to resign as the Railways Minster, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to ‘wait’.