Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to keep tabs on ministers who do not attend the weekly meetings on Monday convened by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party and it is a wing of the parliamentary party. Renu Mittal reports
Ministers -- such as Nirmala Sitharaman, Prakash Javdekar, Ravi Shanker Prasad, Jitender Singh and Smriti Irani, who were earlier party spokespersons -- have been told to attend the weekly meetings. The names of those who do not attend the meetings would be sent to Modi.
The spokerspersons of the BJP parliamentary party from the Rajya Sabha are Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and J P Nadda, while from the Lok Sabha are Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Anurag Thakur and Meenakshi Lekhi.
One minister is expected to be present in the BJP party office everyday to meet and interact with leaders and workers. The roster for these ministers would be made by the party president Amit Shah, and those who do not attend or skip their turn would be reported to Modi, who is keeping a close watch on both ministers and members of Parliament.
In the BJP parliamentary party meeting which was held on Tuesday morning, MPs and ministers were told not to spend too much time in Parliament’s central hall and not to interact too much with media persons, and instead spend more time in the two houses, taking part in the debates
It is interesting that last week, while Modi was in Brazil, his Officer on Special Duty Tanmaya Mehta in the Prime Minister’s Office spent over three days in the Central hall watching the various ministers and the MPs and their interactions with each other and the media. The OSD from Gujarat is known to be particularly close to Narender Modi.
It is learnt that a Congress MP from Gujarat has complained to Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan about the presence of the OSD in the central hall and the long hours he spent there and wanted to know whether officials were allowed to sit with the MPs and ministers.
It is after this that the instructions have come for the MPs to spend less time in the central hall. During the meeting, MPs were told that they should not even ask for permission for foreign visits while the Parliament is in session and they should not nominate themselves on Parliamentary committees, but leave it to the government and the party.
The BJP parliamentary party meets every Tuesday at 9.30 am and the MPs have been told to be present there by sharp 9.25 am.
Interestingly, the BJP has an organisation called Kamal Sakhi Milan which has the wives of MPs and ministers as members, held a meeting in Parliament Annexe on Tuesday evening. Since there is a large number of new and first time MPs and many of them are new to Delhi and all that it represents, the organisation would impart training to these family members on how to be careful, not to talk to strangers and to ensure there are no stings against them. Senior leaders of the BJP are expected to talk to them and make them a part of the BJP family as well as advise them to be cautious and careful.
It is obvious that in the new Modi regime the buzzword is caution with MPs and ministers treading carefully with the prime minister keeping a close watch on them, as most of their activities are being reported back to him.