Smriti Irani may have scoffed at speculation over her ouster with a "Kuch toh log kahengey", but the former HRD Minister was missing from a ceremony on Thursday to formally hand over charge of the ministry — despite two phone calls to her by her successor Prakash Javadekar.
Irani, who was shunted to the low-profile Ministry of Textiles in Tuesday's cabinet reshuffle, seems to be "unhappy" over being displaced from the HRD Ministry, said sources.
On Thursday, Irani failed to attend the charge-taking ceremony of the newly-appointed HRD Minister Javadekar at Shastri Bhavan despite being present in Delhi and being formally invited.
Traditionally the outgoing minister hands over charge to the new minister at a formal ceremony.
On Wednesday, but for Javadekar, all the other newly-appointed ministers as well as those who were shifted from their ministries went to their new offices in the presence of the outgoing minister.
Following the tradition, Javadekar himself handed over the charge of Environment Ministry to newcomer Anil Madhav Dave on Wednesday, while Irani took charge of her new Textiles Ministry.
But Javadekar's assumption of charge of the HRD Ministry was set for Thursday.
Javadekar was hopeful that Irani will turn up on Thursday to hand over the charge, but she didn't.
Javadekar waited till the last for Irani to show up before taking the charge.
"Javadekar ji called Irani twice in the morning. But she finally didn't turn up," a source told IANS.
Irani's absence was apparent of her unhappiness at being shunted out, but Javadekar downplayed the issue, saying "She was supposed to come today, but she was stuck in some personal work."
"I had a word with her in the morning on phone," the Minister said.
After the reshuffle, Javadekar had gone to meet Irani at her residence on Wednesday morning.
Sources said that Javadekar had tried to soothe Irani's dejection but his efforts were in vain.
Javadekar, who was supposed to take charge on Wednesday deferred it till Thursday and even held a meeting with HRD officials in the ministry on Wednesday itself.
On Wednesday, Irani, after taking charge of the Textiles Ministry had denied rumours that her move to the new office was a demotion.
She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for placing her in charge of a sector that has immense potential to generate employment.
On persistent questioning about her being moved out of the HRD Ministry, Irani said, "There have been so many questions and so many things being said. I would only say that 'Kuchh to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna' (People will talk, it is their business)."
Javadekar was the only Minister of State to be elevated to cabinet rank in Tuesday's reshuffle.
Sources close to Irani told IANS that she had had an inkling she might be shifted out from the HRD ministry.
When she met an Education Minister of one of the BJP ruled states few days ago, Irani indicated that she might not be in the HRD Ministry when he visits her next.
Sources told IANS that Irani was shifted to Textiles because of the many controversies during her tenure as HRD Minister and the way she dealt with them.
"She should not have dealt with these controversies in such aggressive manner. As an HRD Minister she was not supposed to behave like this. You are dealing with students. Even a teacher doesn't behave the way she did. The ministry was given to Javadekar, who is known to be a cool and clam person," a source told IANS.