- Jayant Sinha shifted as minister of state to the civil aviation ministry
- Among reasons is tea party he hosted for bank, govt officials: Sources
- Conflict of interest as wife serves on boards of top companies also cited
Smriti Irani’s transfer from the prestigious Education ministry to the low-profile Textile department became the main headline of Tuesday night’s big cabinet reshuffle, but the exit of Jayant Sinha, an IIT graduate and Harvard MBA, from the Finance Ministry too is seen as a major development.
Jayant Sinha, who was junior minister for finance, has been shifted as minister of state to the civil aviation ministry, where he is expected to help cabinet minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju bail out the ailing airline sector. But the move, like Ms Irani’s shift to Textiles, is meant as a reprimand, sources said.
Among reasons sources cite for the transfer is a tea party that Mr Sinha, 53, hosted, for bank and government officials at his home that was also attended by people not associated with the government.
The tea party took place, according to sources, on June 6, the day Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met the heads of public sector banks in Delhi.
There has also been talk of a potential conflict of interest because his wife Punita Kumar Sinha, a well-known investor, serves on the boards of several top companies. Her appointment to the board of IT major Infosys in January this year led to a heated debate on Twitter on conflict of interest since she was the wife of the minister of state for finance, who is involved in shaping economic and market policies
Investors had cheered when Mr Sinha, a former venture capitalist, was appointed in the finance ministry. But the impression that the minister has strong views on some economic issues that are not in line with the government’s is said to have influenced the decision to shift him out of the crucial finance ministry.
Mr Sinha’s father, Yashwant Sinha’s strong and repeated criticism of the Modi government has not helped his cause either, sources said.
Yashwant Sinha, a former Finance Minister now sidelined in the party, has attacked the government on key policies and strategy, like its dealing with the Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG.
He had earlier joined other BJP veterans like LK Advani and MM Joshi in challenging the style of working of BJP chief Amit Shah and PM Modi.