Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Modi and ministers

There are reports of Narendra Modi dealing with his ministers in a way different from his predecessors.   They make a good reading or viewing.

Modi wants punctuality.  He wants ministers to be present at office at 9 a.m.  He wants ministers to enforce punctuality on staff members.  We know Prakash Javadekar and Venkaiah Naidu had checked offices at 9 a.m. and many staff members were absent.  The absentees got the message that they have to be present at 9 a.m.  One woman minister belonging to a coalition party was not punctual.  Modi called her on phone.  She said she meets people at home.  Modi told her to meet people in office.  Otherwise bureaucrats will not be punctual.  I suppose that minister is Harsimrat Kaur.

Modi works on Saturdays.  Other ministers and bureaucrats have to work on Saturdays.  I understand Modi works on Sundays but not sure whether other ministers and bureaucrats have to work on Sundays.  Modi should make Saturday a working day for central government employees.  That used to be the case before Rajiv Gandhi made it a holiday.

Modi is against corruption.  One day he called the son of a minister.  He praised him.  During their conversation he told him he has heard he has taken money from an official for transfer.  He told him to return the money.  This son was supposed to be Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh.  When Pankaj Singh did not get BJP ticket to contest from Noida for UP Legislative Assembly rumours gained ground.  On 27/8/2014 there were reports that Rajnath Singh was unhappy about ministerial colleagues and had complained to RSS.  Around 1.30 p.m. Rajnath Singh met journalists, denied rumours about his son, and said Modi and Amit Shah were surprised when he talked to them about rumours.  Soon PMO issued a statement that rumours about Pankaj Singh were motivated lies and character assassination.

Modi wants ministers not to be subservient to industrialists.  He reprimanded a minister for kowtowing to a mighty industrialist.

Modi wants ministers to put work first.  One minister wanted to go to USA to attend his son’s commencement ceremony.  Modi did not permit him.  He reminded him his duty is to the public.

Modi is the master of his ministers.  He leads by example and others have to fall in line.

Modi has an advantage.  He is the undisputed leader of BJP.  BJP has absolute majority in Lok Sabha.  He can dictate terms to allies.  Allies cannot dictate terms to him.  Prime Ministers from Vishwanath Pratap Singh to Manmohan Singh did not have that advantage.

Some things Modi has done are strange.  He did not appoint any Defence Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley continues to hold additional charge of Defence.  After Gopinath Munde’s death Nitin Gadkari holds additional charge of portfolios held by Gopinath Munde.  Vijay Kumar Singh could have been made Defence Minister.  He was army chief.  Instead he is Minister of State for External Affairs.  Smriti Irani is 38 and she has cabinet rank.  V. K. Singh who is above 60 is Minister of State.  He did not want his ministers to have anyone associated with UPA regime in their personal staff but gave extension to cabinet secretary whose term had expired.  He wanted Congress appointed Governors to quit.  When some of them quit there were no immediate replacements.  Governors of neighbouring states were given temporary charge.  He did not want discussion on Israel’s attack on Gaza in Rajya Sabha but India voted against Israel in United Nations Commission on Human Rights.  Visit to Japan was postponed twice.

Updated: August 28, 2014 — 8:08 am

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