HRD Min­is­ter Set to Spruce up Ed­u­ca­tional In­fra in Rahul Gandhi Pocket Bor­ough Ame­thi

Youngest min­is­ter in the Modi cab­i­net is likely to visit Ame­thi next week

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - VASUDHA VENU­GOPAL

IN­DIA’S newly-minted HRD min­is­ter wants to dou­ble the spend on ed­u­ca­tion, but the savvy politi­cian Sm­riti Irani would like some of that new money to trickle down to Ame­thi where she had given a close fight to Congress vice pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi. Irani, 38, the youngest in the Naren­dra Modi cab­i­net, took charge at Shas­tri Bhawan on Tues­day evening and quickly set about her job af­ter meet­ing a posse of wait­ing re­porters and depart­ment sec­re­taries with whom she dis­cussed the pend­ing projects in the min­istry. Irani told ET that she will go to Ame­thi soon “to do some work that you will get to know soon”. Speak­ing from Ame­thi, her con­fi­dantes said Irani could be there as early as next week. A Ra­jya Sabha MP from Gu­jarat, Irani had run a spir­ited cam­paign in Ame­thi, a Gandhi pock- et bor­ough, and had man­aged to bring down Rahul Gandhi’s ma­jor­ity from 3.70 lakh votes to just about a lakh. A party worker in Ame­thi said Irani has promised to im­me­di­ately ad­dress the re­solve the prob­lems of the con­stituency. “Madam was dis­turbed when she found out that the only in­ter col­lege for girls here has no stu­dents be­cause there are no toi­lets. T h e o n l y g i rl ’s school in Ame­thi in Shukla Bazaar runs from a godown. She plans to re­vive them at the ear­li­est,” he said.

Apart from poor school­ing fa­cil­i­ties, Irani had ex­pressed con­cern over lack of drink­ing wa­ter in the house­holds of Ame­thi and has as­sured them of all pos­si­ble help.

“The whole unit of BJP there plans to or­gan­ise a big wel­come for her. Her loss by just a lakh votes in a Gandhi bas­tion is noth­ing short of vic­tory. Her be­com­ing a min­is­ter will bring good times for Ame­thi,” the party worker said. At Shas­tri Bhawan, Irani told ET that all the prom­ises made in the BJP poll man­i­festo will be ful­filled in five years. She said she will also lobby with the govern­ment to hike the to­tal spend on ed­u­ca­tion from the cur­rent 3.8% of GDP to 6%. Tasks such as the set­ting up a Cen­tral univer­sity ded­i­cated to Hi­malayan tech­nol­ogy to help the govern­ment con­serve ecol­ogy and ar­rest melt­ing of glaciers will be a pri­or­ity, she said. Irani also said that a com­pre­hen­sive na­tional E-li­brary to em­power school teach­ers and stu­dents was in the off­ing. With re­spect to govern­ment-run schools and col­leges, she said de­ci­sions will be made af­ter con­sult­ing stake­hold­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous states. She also added that a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee was look­ing at the pros and

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