New Delhi: Dismissing all speculations of veteran Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy being upset over the change in his portfolio, the new Union Minister for Science and Technology said that he was "excited to be a part of this ministry" and called it an important one.
Addressing a press conference after assuming his new office, Reddy said, "Science and Technology is an important ministry and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been devoting his personal attention to this ministry."
Rubbishing the rumours of a rift, the former Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister said, "There is no move for any rally in Hyderabad or anywhere else. It has been my effort to be a faithful party man and a truthful minister. That has been my focus."
Claiming that he had already said he would take charge at 5 pm, Jaipal Reddy said his relationship with the Prime Minister was excellent. He said, "My relationship with the PM is excellent. He has always shown affection for me. I don’t take position for portfolios, I have taken position for issues."
The Science and Technology Minister further said that he had no regrets about portfolios and reiterated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken him into confidence about the change.
Earlier, questions were being raised over why Reddy was shunted out of the Petroleum Ministry after he was made the Science and Technology Minister during Sunday's Cabinet reshuffle. Many alleged that Jaipal Reddy was been removed for pleasing Reliance. "I think from the post that Jaipal Reddy has been given, it is clear that the government is unhappy with the manner in which he worked," BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi had said.
"There were reports in the media that Jaipal was dropped under pressure from industry. The Prime Minister must explain to the people why Jaipal was suddenly removed," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu added.
India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal also questioned the move. He tweeted, "Why did Jaipal Reddy lose his job? For resisting Reliance? Oily Moily will now work as per Reliance? So, LPG and power prices set to rise? (sic)" "Jaipal Reddy - known to be honest - kicked out. Salman Khurshid - corrupt - promoted. That's UPA (sic)," he added.
Meanwhile, the Centre defended the shunting of Jaipal Reddy from the Petroleum Ministry saying it was not done to please anyone. When asked whether the new responsibility given to Jaipal Reddy was like a demotion, Ajay Maken, who was sworn in as the housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister on Sunday, said, "I don't think so because Jaipal has been given four different kinds of portfolios in the last 8 to 9 years and he has performed in each and every one of them and Science and Technology is also an important ministry."