Jyotiraditya Scindia (50), who resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP in March 2020, was inducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Council of Ministers on Wednesday.
By late evening, Jyotiraditya Scindia was allocated his portfolio: civil aviation, replacing , and Hardeep Puri, who will now head Urban Development and Petroleum Ministry.
"I express my gratitude to all the senior leaders for giving me this opportunity. I will try to keep intact the belief that they have shown in me," Scindia said on Wednesday.
Scindia has got the same ministry his father, Madhavrao Scindia, had in the PV Narasimha Rao government. Madhavrao Scindia held the civil aviation and tourism portfolios in the Rao government from 1991 to 1993.
Those were defining years for India’s politics and economy as the country embraced liberalisation. The Covid-19 pandemic has made Jyotiraditya's taking up of the civil aviation ministry’s charge equally momentous.
Both leaders had already served as Union ministers before assuming the charge of the civil aviation ministry. Madhavrao had served as the railways minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government. Jyotiraditya had served as minister of communication and IT in the Manmohan Singh government. He was credited with reviving the postal system.
There is another similarity between Madhavrao and Jyotiraditya - both viewed as sophisticated, suave and articulate by their peers. And, while Madhavrao had worked as a Jan Sangh (precursor of the BJP) leader before joining the Congress after the Emergency crackdown by the Indira Gandhi regime, Jyotiraditya joined the BJP after having fallen out with the Gandhis of the Congress.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, however, would like the commonality with his father to end here in their political careers. For, Madhavrao Scindia had a tough time as the civil aviation minister.
Scindia takes control of the ministry after the peak of the Covid second wave has passed and the country is relatively getting freer with lockdowns and travel eased up to some extent. Puri, the outgoing Civil Aviation Minister, headed the ministry at a tough time for the sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought the hospitality industry and travel sector to a grinding halt.
But airlines are still struggling to survive as flights have drastically reduced all over the world. Its monthly report published (the last available) in May this year showed a fall of over 13 per cent in the passenger traffic this year from January to April compared to the same period last year.
To turn around the civil aviation sector would be a tougher challenge for Jyotiraditya Scindia. It could be a real test for Scindia as he steps in the shoes of his father.