New Delhi: As Vyalar Ravi takes over from Praful Patel as the new Civil Aviation Minister, the key question that's being asked in political circles is: Was this a last minute change? And if so why?
Apart from wresting the crucial Aviation portfolio from NCP, sources say, Patel's handling of Air India played a role in his change of portfolio.
Also, NDTV has learnt that the CAG will submit a report on Air India soon.
The report could raise questions about the Civil Aviation Ministry opening up Air India's lucrative Gulf routes to private carriers. And an adverse CAG report with Patel at the helm could have created more problems for the UPA.
An ill-advised merger of Air India, employee strike and his proximity to airlines owners, made Patel's tenure controversial.
"When I took over, Aviation Ministry was unrecognised globally. Now, India is the ninth largest aviation market in the world; aviation has grown, so much. It's OK, you have to take the brickbat with the bouquet," Patel said after taking over oath as the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister.
The new man in-charge of the Civil Aviation Ministry, Vyalar Ravi, has strong trade union roots. He has been brought in with a clear focus on Air India, especially to take employees on board before carrying out tough decisions.
"Commercial aspects are also important but the main aspect is to bring back prestige of Air India," Ravi said.
Many believe that eventually, the Aviation Ministry will go to a younger face of the UPA. But before that Vyalar Ravi will have to do the repair job of bringing Air India back on track.