NEW DELHI: On Monday night, Piyush Goyal entered the big league on Raisina Hill after being temporarily entrusted with one of the most sought-after portfolios -managing the economy.
With the addition, Goyal, 54, will handle a vast swathe of the policy landscape, ranging from railways and coal to finance and corporate affairs, putting him, even if temporarily, in the Cabinet Committee on Security.
The chartered accountant, who also worked as an investment banker, has had a stunning rise since his induction as a minister of state in the Narendra Modi government in May 2014. One of his first tasks was to clean up the mess in the coal sector after the Supreme Court cancelled mining rights. Goyal rose to the task and successfully conducted auctions, netting the government close to Rs 3 lakh crore and restoring credibility in the scam-ridden sector.
His next challenge was the power sector, where he focused on restoring the health of cash-strapped state power distribution companies apart from working on electrifying every household in the country, a task that is slated to be completed by the end of the year.
For consumers, Goyal’s biggest contribution was to drastically reduce the cost of LED bulbs through the Ujala scheme. And, there was a major thrust for renewable energy, too, while he held the portfolio.
After a spate of rail accidents, Goyal was elevated as cabinet minister and moved to Rail Bhawan. He responded by shaking up the entrenched railway bureaucracy and whittled down the Railway Board and ended Raj-era practices. Goyal, seen as a performer, has focused on modernising the railways, including replacing worn out tracks, apart from improving efficiency through electrification.
The Mumbaikar is often seen presenting the government’s record on reforms and the economy on domestic and global platforms.
Seen as someone who is at ease with businesses as well as politicians, Goyal has to drive the insolvency process where at least a dozen high-profile cases are lined up for resolution. The biggest challenge will be restoring the health of the banking sector, which has been grappling with a series of scandals and a mountain of bad debt. Plus, he has to carry forward the task of smoothening out the glitches in GST, while ensuring that the pace of reforms do not slow down.