The new government is taking all the pains to ensure a clean government to the people of the nation.
In the 25 days of Narendra Modi manning the prime ministerial post, he has taken every step to end the UPA legacy. He disbanded all the cabinet committees formed by the previous government to ensure smooth work and then asked the Governors installed by it to put in their papers. Many others holding coveted posts given by the UPA government were also asked to resign, plus some appointments were stalled by the Modi government.
One may look at it essentially as an unnecessary exercise to end everything that was of previous government, but a deeper look proves that it was a much needed exercise.
In case of UPA appointed governors, some have tendered their resignation to the President Pranab Mukherjee, and some are still fighting to keep their post. Although, under Article 156(1), the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President, but the indications from the government have come clear that it will remove all those who will not resign.
Many of these governors enjoyed immunity from legal procedures because of their post. For example, the Governor of Goa and West Bengal – B.V. Wanchoo and M.K. Narayanan, respectively – are needed to be questioned on AgustaWestland chopper deal case. The last minute installation of former chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit as Kerala governor was a clear cut case of providing immunity to her as FIRs in the Commonwealth Games scam has been filed against her.
The members of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), formed in 2005 by the UPA, have also been asked to resign by the PMO. Till the latest news, NDMA vice-chairman M Sashidhar Reddy has tendered his resignation along with member KM Singh. Others are also expected to follow the suit.
Similar is going to be the fate of National Commission of Women, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and National Commission for Scheduled Castes. It should be noted that there was a heavy controversy regarding the appointment of the chairman of each of these commissions. NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma’s appointment is equally controversial as PL Punia and Karan Singh’s appointment as SC/ST and ICCR chair, respectively. All were seen as favours extended by the UPA to these people as they were at some point associated with the Congress party.
It is also learnt that the PM has issued a diktat that no one in the ministry should appoint an officers who had served on the ministerial staff in the previous UPA government. The Indian Express reported that the Prime Minister’s Office diktat, sent by the cabinet secretary, said no official/officer who had earlier worked as a personal staff of a union minister of the previous regime “in any capacity” be considered for appointment as personal staff of a union minister.
Modi had held back the appointment of a private secretary to home minister Rajnath Singh as the latter’s candidate Alok Singh, a 1995 batch IPS officer, had served as private secretary to former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. The appointments of Abhinav Kumar and Rajesh Kumar, as PS to minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and MoS for external affairs V K Singh, respectively, were not cleared either. Abhinav was PS with Shashi Tharoor and Rajesh was PS with Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
The reason behind this move is simple. The UPAI and II was marred in controversy because of the innumerous scams that happened during its tenure. The key posts are likely to be privy to the knowledge of such scams and the Modi government wants to open an elaborate investigation in each case and put the perpetrators to justice.
Many reports by intelligence and investigative agencies have also played a big role in stopping any appointment in haste. The two cases, which flashed big in the news – Gopal Subramaniam’s elevation as judge of Supreme Court and NATGRID CEO Raghu Raman’s extension of tenure – did not happen because of such reports to the government.
One of the UPA’s biggest showpiece internal security projects, NATGRID was conceived in 2008 after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai as an intelligence database that would have networked 21 sets of data sources to provide quick and secure access of information to about 10 intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. These data sources include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions.
Raman was appointed as CEO on December 1, 2009, by the UPA government. An Intelligence Bureau report alleging “misconduct” by Raman was a key factor in the Modi government’s decision not to give him an extension beyond the end of his tenure on May 31. The same report was ignored by UPA as Raman was close to the senior Congress leaders.
Similarly, a “negative” report by the CBI was apparently behind the government’s rejection of former solicitor general Subramaniam’s elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court. The law ministry had sent a query to the investigating agency in the wake of reports that Subramaniam had, as SG, met with the lawyer for 2G scam accused former telecom minister A Raja in hisoffice, in the presence of CBI officers in charge of the investigation.
The CBI’s secret communication to the ministry had confirmed that Subramaniam was not engaged by the agency in the 2G matter at that time. The report had also referred to Subramaniam’s alleged “link” to former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, whose intercepted phone conversations are under CBI scrutiny.
Although the PM is busy in a major overhaul, is reconstituting many committees and issuing orders not to appoint any UPA officer in the ministry, interestingly, just a day ago the PMO appointed Rajeev Topno, who worked as a director in Manmohan Singh’s PMO, as his private secretary. Topno is a 1996-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre who was charge-sheeted by Modi as Gujarat chief minister for irregularities in allotting shops to the 2011 earthquake victims. Topno was the district development officer in quake-hit Kutch.
Whatever the reason be, it is clear that the new government is taking all the pains to ensure a clean government to the people of the nation.