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PMO stokes new controversy over appointment of private secretaries

PMO stokes new controversy over appointment of private secretaries
Drawing a lot of attention, political and bureaucratic circles have been abuzz after the prime minister’s office (PMO) struck down the proposals made by some of his ministers including home minister Rajnath Singh for the appointment of their private secretaries.

Noted Journalist Harish Khare on Tuesday lauded Modi’s decision saying ‘Modi correct to intervene in ministers’ choice of babus’. ‘The new government does not suffer from any coalition-related infirmity and it is natural - and, even desirable-that the pendulum should swing a bit. It was about time that the cabinet should be made to defer to advice from the Prime Minister’s Office,’ Khare expressed on a news website.

‘The centrality of Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign and the BJP’s clean majority are bound to steer the government’s style of functioning towards a prime ministerial primacy,’he added.
Also criticising the move Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned Modi’s intervention.  He tweeted : ‘A strong PMO is one thing but if a minister can’t be trusted to choose a private secretary how can he/she be trusted to run a ministry?’

According to sources in PMO had turned down the choices made by certain ministers for their private secretaries. While Rajnath Singh wanted Alok Singh, a 1995 batch UP cadre officer to assist him, sources say the PM rejected his appointment as he had served as the personal secretary to former foreign minister Salman Khurshid.

Other ministers whose moves to appoint personal secretaries of their choice have been blocked by the PMO include HRD minister Smriti Irani, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, MoS home Kiren Rijiju and MoS external affairs VK Singh, who is also MoS (independent charge) for the North East region.

Sources in the PMO say that Modi does not want officers from the previous UPA government to be given close positions in the government. Also Modi had in a Cabinet meeting earlier this month directed his ministers to chose their office staff carefully and had ordered them not to zero in on their family members.
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