No wrongdoing: Rijiju on removal as law minister

New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Kiren Rijiju on Friday assumed charge as Earth Sciences Minister and dismissed suggestions that he was removed as minister of law and justice due to some wrongdoing.

Rijiju refused to answer questions about his previous ministry contending that these were no longer relevant and that he looked forward to serving in the Earth Sciences Ministry.

“Don’t ask questions related to the previous ministry as they are no longer relevant,” Rijiju said to queries whether he was shunted out for his frequent run-ins with the judiciary.

“Where is the wrongdoing? (Galti thodi hua hai?)  Do you feel this has happened because of some wrongdoing,” Rijiju countered to questions on whether his sudden departure from the law ministry on Thursday was due to some wrongdoing.

“These changes and assigning different responsibilities are the way a government functions. It is the prerogative of the prime minister to assign responsibilities as per his thinking. Why do you feel that something is amiss,” he said.

Rijiju dismissed suggestions that he was removed as law minister due to growing friction between the government and the judiciary.

“It is nothing like that. I have said it earlier as well. Today you give me good wishes on the new responsibility,” he said to questions on whether he was removed due to frequent run-ins with the judiciary.

Rijiju thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him an opportunity to handle various portfolios and gain experience.

“First of all, we are party workers. Whatever post we hold, we have to work for the party. The way the government functions, don’t look at it otherwise. I will do whatever work the Prime Minister assigns me, but alongside, I will also work for the party. We have to do both jobs. We cannot say I will do this and I will not do this,” Rijiju said.

Rijiju, a three-term Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, has served in the Modi government as Minister of State Home, Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports before being elevated to the Cabinet rank as Law Minister in 2021.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrityunjay Mohapatra and Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor Vishwajit Sahay were present when Rijiju assumed charge as the Minister of Earth Sciences.

Senior officers of the ministry, including Secretary M Ravichandran, are away in Diu for the G20 Research and Innovation Initiative Gathering (RIIG) Conference.