Govt tweaks law to appoint Misra in PMO

Ordinance paves way for former Trai chairman to take over as principal secretary
Last Updated : 28 May 2014, 20:08 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2014, 20:08 IST

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Nripendra Misra was on Wednesday appointed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Principal Secretary, after the government issued an ordinance tweaking a law that could have prevented the former Trai chairman from taking over the office.

As per the Trai Act, its chairman and members are barred from taking up any other job in the central or state governments after demitting office.

However, to enable Modi to get his choice for the key man in the PMO, the government moved fast in bringing in a new amendment, which said the chairperson and whole-time members “shall not, for a period of two years from the date on which they cease to hold office as such, except with the previous approval of the central government” accept any government post or in the business of telecommunication service.

With the ordinance in place, the Ministry of Personnel issued an order appointing 69-year-old Misra, a 1967 batch retired IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, as the principal secretary to the prime minister.

His appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the prime minister or till further orders, according to an order issued by the ministry. Misra will succeed Pulok Chatterjee, who served in Manmohan Singh’s PMO.

Even before his official appointment, he was aiding and advising Modi when the Saarc leaders were in Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony.

Curiously, government sources said that though former director of Intelligence Bureau, Ajit Kumar Doval, taking over as National Security Advisor (NSA) was cleared by the government, the orders to this effect have not been issued so far. This had set tongues wagging on his fate.

Over the last two days, Doval too has been trying to identify where his appointment order was stuck.

Till evening, the government remained mum on his selection. Interestingly, Doval has briefed Modi on two occasions, on internal security and diplomatic relations with Saarc countries.

A couple of vacancies are may come up in the PMO with the tenure of secretary R Ramanujam ending on May 31. Ramanujam is a Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer of the 1979 batch. Similarly, the tenures of two director-level officers — 1996 batch IAS officer Rajiv Topno from the Gujarat cadre and MP cadre IAS officer Pallavi Jain Govil — are also ending.

This will give Modi the chance to bring in bureaucrats of his choice. Meanwhile, Modi on Wednesday directed his staff to look into issues raised by states on priority. He was given a detailed presentation on the structure and functions of his office.

“The prime minister also indicated that he would like his office to consider issues, especially those raised by states on priority and with sensitivity. He added that this is important because India’s progress lies in the progress of states and this would strengthen our federal structure,” the PMO said.

Earlier, as chief minister, Modi had attacked the UPA government for discriminating against non-Congress states. Thus, in one of his election campaign speeches, he had promised that his government in Delhi would take all states forward together.

During the course of the meeting, the prime minister stressed upon the need to resolve people’s grievances on a fast-track basis, said the official communiqué.

“He emphasised on leveraging modern technology and developing systems and processes for effective monitoring and resolution of issues which are particularly brought to his office,” the statement added.

Published 28 May 2014, 20:08 IST

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