The curious case of Jayant Sinha in Modi’s cabinet rejig
Reuters | Photo Credit: Reuters

The transfer of Union cabinet minister Smriti Irani from the human resources development ministry to textiles ministry has captured media headlines but another key change that has raised eyebrows is that of junior minister Jayant Sinha’s move from the crucial finance ministry to civil aviation.

Although there is no official word on what prompted Sinha’s ouster from North Block, which houses the finance ministry, some media reports said that a closer look at a few recent events might hold clues on what led to this rather surprising move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An NDTV report said that a tea party, with government and banking officials at his residence, and a perception that Sinha spoke “out of turn” on more than one occasion might have done him in.

Another reason that could have played a part is the fact that his father, former finance and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha has of late been an outspoken critic of the Modi government’s economic and foreign policies. 

A possible conflict of interest could have been another reason for Sinha’s exit from the finance ministry, says a report published by The Hindu. Sinha’s wife, Punita Kumar-Sinha, runs Pacific Paradigm Advisors, an investment advisory firm and sits on the boards of several companies. 

In fact, the IIT Delhi and Harvard-educated Sinha was earlier associated with consulting firm McKinsey & Co, and later with the Omidyar Network, an investment firm set up by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar.

Kumar-Sinha, who met her husband during their days as students at IIT Delhi, was earlier a senior managing director with the Blackstone Group.

Citing data from the Registrar of Companies, the Mint newspaper had reported in 2014 that both husband and wife hold significant stakes in Freedom Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

Sinha’s brother, Sumant Sinha, controls renewable energy firm ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd along with wife Vaishali Sinha and has several other business interests. 

Interestingly, outgoing Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan and Jayant Sinha were contemporaries at IIT Delhi.

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