Did Smriti Irani pay price for fake news guidelines and other controversial decisions?

This is the second time that Smriti Irani has been removed from a key ministry.

NEW DELHI Did Smriti Irani pay the price for guidelines of Information and Broadcasting Ministry on fake news? Her erstwhile ministry was always in news for making some controversial decisions when she was at the helm of affairs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night removed Smriti Irani as I&B Minister and gave the portfolio to her deputy Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in a reshuffle of his cabinet a day before counting of Karnataka elections.

This is the second time that Irani has been removed from a key ministry as she was earlier shifted out of the HRD Ministry to the relatively low-profile Textile Ministry.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry “guidelines to regulate fake news” had caused widespread outrage among media organisations and much to the embarrassment of the NDA government the guidelines were withdrawn after the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As per the “guidelines to regulate fake news”, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had said that a journalist’s accreditation could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news.

More than 100 journalists and media professionals had then written to Irani, saying additional regulations would open up the possibility of widespread abuse and attempts to suppress political dissent by the government.

The PMO had on April 3 ordered it to withdraw a press release on fake news, saying that the decision on what constitutes fake news should be left to press bodies.

Her ministry was again at the centre of a controversy over around 50 recipients of the National Film Awards skipping the award ceremony earlier this month. The recipients were flustered over President Ram Nath Kovind giving away the awards to only a select few winners.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had reportedly mismanaged the event and the Rashtrapati Bhawan had conveyed its unhappiness to the PMO stating that its name was unnecessarily dragged into the controversy.

Besides this, the other controversies that dogged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry were transfers of India Information Service officers.

In July last year, Irani had assumed the charge of Information and Broadcasting Ministry after M Venkaiah Naidu had resigned following his nomination as NDA’s vice presidential candidate.

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