Shah chairs ministers' meet, snubs Giriraj Singh

Home Minister Amit Shah. PTI file photo

Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting of senior ministers to decide on a $2.2-2.4 bn investment proposal in a giant gas field in Mozambique. He read the riot act to Union minister Giriraj Singh for his snide remarks against Bihar allies Nitish Kumar and Ramvilas Paswan.

He got a briefing on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir where the BJP-led Centre is thinking of lifting the freeze on delimitation of Assembly constituencies that could enable an increase in seats from Jammu region and help further the spread of the saffron party.

Shah chaired the informal ministerial meeting, which was attended by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar among others, that looked into the investment proposal in the Mozambique gas field, as the government felt the need to go in for a deeper scrutiny of overseas investments.

In the previous Modi government, then-finance minister Arun Jaitley used to chair such meetings but his absence due to health reasons, the responsibility has fallen on Shah, indicating the unofficial anointment of the home minister as the No 2 in the government.

Sources said the high-level meeting, which was also attended by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant among others, reviewed the proposal before taking it to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for formal approval.

Earlier, Pradhan was critical of the $6 bn investment to take 30% in the Rovuma Offshore Area-1 in Mozambique during UPA-I as well as ONGC Videsh buying Imperial Energy of Russia.

Donning his second hat as party president, Shah admonished Giriraj Singh who mocked NDA leaders in Bihar for attending Iftar parties as he had to step in to douse the fire by asking him to avoid making such comments.

Tweeting pictures of Kumar and Paswan attending Iftar party, Singh said in Hindi, "how beautiful would the picture have emerged, had phalahaar (a fruit feast) been organised during Navaratra with the same fervour with splendid photographs taken. Why do we lag behind in observance of our own karm-dharm (religious customs) in public, while staying ahead in pretension?"

Singh is a known detractor of Nitish Kumar, who was photographed wearing a skullcap and a namaz kerchief covering his shoulders. Senior Bihar BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi was also seen in one of the pictures.

Reacting to the barb, senior LJP leader Chirag Paswan said his party believed in "sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas", a slogan coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As NDA leaders expressed outrage, Shah called up Singh and asked him to stop attacking allies and avoid making such comments.

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