It is clear Modi wants to establish a direct hotline with the bureaucracy, bypassing the ministers, just like in Gujarat where the bureaucracy ran the show and the babus were given a free hand to take decisions. Rediff.com contributor Renu Mittal reports.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the secretaries of all the government departments collectively on Wednesday, June 4, and indicated that he wants them to bring details of the last government's activities to him, particularly on the economy and key ministries which made the headlines.
At a meeting with the secretaries of all government departments -- the first such meeting in eight years -- Modi decided to 'expose' the inadequacies and the lack of performance of the previous United Progressive Alliance government, even as he has assured the secretaries that they must work fearlessly and honestly, and that they were free to approach him and he would protect them, if they were in the right.
Sources said Modi has decided to issue a White Paper on the state of the treasury. This would detail the following:
- Work of the previous government in the last 10 years;
- The state of the economy; the promises made by the Congress-led UPA government -- those which were fulfilled and those which remained abandoned;
- Status of the money spent on various schemes, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and compare it with the performance of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government;
- How much was left in the treasury after the UPA government demitted office.
The Modi government is expected to look at the petroleum ministry with a fine toothcomb, amid reports that a large number of irregularities were committed to benefit certain companies.
The reports given to the prime minister indicate that on a number of issues, legal opinion was sought, but since the opinions varied, no decisions were taken and issues were kept in limbo. Companies were asked to fix their own rates according to the market, which led to big profits for them at the cost of the exchequer.
Sources said Modi assured the secretaries that there would be no interference with their work. He told them he does not care about the number of hours they put in, but warned them that he did not want any files piled up on their tables.
He asked that they should approach him directly if their ministers interfere with their work; whether in person or otherwise, and that that he would defend them if they are in the right.
It is clear Modi wants to establish a direct hotline with the bureaucracy, bypassing the ministers, just like in Gujarat where the bureaucracy ran the show and the babus were given a free hand to take decisions.
The prime minister may want to follow the same methods at the Centre, but it is not clear how senior ministers will react to such a style of functioning, since many of them are experienced, and leaders in their own right.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets secretaries to the Government of India in New Delhi, June 4, 2014. Photograph: Press Information Bureau