Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu today rubbished the talk of his demotion in the Cabinet reshuffle, saying he looks at his new task as an opportunity to ensure rapid economic growth of the country.
Noting that his new assignment is his ninth as a Cabinet minister, Prabhu said every task is equally important. Prabhu was moved out of the important railway ministry and was handed over the commerce and industry portfolio in the Cabinet recast.
The development comes after Prabhu took moral responsibility for the Kalinga Utkal Express train's derailment near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district on August 19 that killed 23 people. Two more derailments were also reported last month. Soon after the Khatauli tragedy, Prabhu had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said in a series of tweets that he took full responsibility for the accident but was asked to "wait". This was seen as an indication that he would be ejected from the key infrastructure ministry.
"Every responsibility of the government is important and this is my ninth Cabinet level position," Prabhu said.
There was a buzz that Prabhu could be axed from the Cabinet, but he was replaced by Piyush Goyal and shifted to commerce and industries ministry.
"I am extremely happy that the prime minister has asked me to do something in Make in India, Start up India, and ease of doing business in India---all of these are the flagship programmes of the government which have to be implemented and I look forward to doing that in the right earnest," he said.
Prabhu said the task is cut for him in the new ministry, which is to ensure faster economic growth, address the challenge of creating more employment opportunities, work to bring in more investments and increase exports for greater competitiveness. He identified export intensive industries as an area where large number of jobs can be created.
"We have a big challenge of improving employment. We need investments in India which have to be supplemented by FDI, we need to increase exports so that competitiveness improves as well as more jobs are created through export intensive industries," Prabhu said.
Soon after the oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan ended where Goyal and three other Ministers of State were elevated to the Cabinet rank and nine new faces inducted into the council of ministers, Prabhu tweeted indicating his exit from Rail Bhawan.
"Thanks to all 13 Lacs+ rail family for their support, love, goodwill. I will always cherish these memories with me. Wishing you all a great life," he said.
Wishing the fresh inductees to the Council of Ministers, Prabhu said, "Congrats to all members of #TeamModi for new responsibility. Making our country better is our common mission."
He also applauded Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman and Goyal who were elevated as Cabinet ministers.