The Prime Minister’s Office has expressed “reluctance” to accept newly inducted minister Ramdas Athawale’s request to have controversial diplomat Devyani Khobragade as his private secretary, officials said, adding that “nothing is final”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had so far rejected every request from ministers for the appointment of friends or associates to their offices. Khobragade’s father Uttam Khobragade, a former IAS officer, is executive president of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), a BJP ally that Athawale, junior social justice and empowerment minister, heads.
Devyani’s father Uttam Khobargade has moved Delhi High Court against the central government’s withdrawal of her daughter’s Indian passports on the ground that they hold US passports as well. Earlier, Devyani Khobragade had been arrested and strip-searched in the US in December 2013, when she was India’s deputy consul-general in New York, for allegedly making false declarations in a visa application for her nanny. It had sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Not only in Devyani’s case but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has denied many of his ministers their first picks for private secretary. One reason has been these ministers’ choice of officials who had worked with their UPA predecessors. Home minister Rajnath Singh’s initial pick had worked with Salman Khurshid, while Smriti Irani’s had been attached to Beni Prasad Verma’s office. Ravishankar Prasad’s candidate had worked with Tariq Anwar, while minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla had sought to continue with her predecessor’s private secretary.
Talking about the appointment one senior official at the department of personnel and training said.”He has rejected all requests where there is some known relation between a minister and his choice for private secretary. While family members are a complete no-no, even past associates are not encouraged.”
Though it’s a good step but when you look at the ministry appoints of Indian government you realise that Prime Minister prefers working with those who has close ties with him. Amit Shah as BJP President, Smriti Irani in HRD ministry, Pahlaj Nihalani as CBFC head, not to mention controversial choices like Chetan Chauhan and Gajendra Chauhan for NIFT and FTII chairman posts respectively, and even after strong backing for Raghu Ram Rajan for second term as RBI Governor he prefer to let go the public favourite choice. Many experts believe that Bhaskar Khulbe appointment as Additional Secretary of PM is only done because of Khulbe’s knowledge about the Sharda chit fund scam.
Even if we ignore about Modi’s personal preferences even then it’s not justified to ignore minister’s choices for personal secretaries and approve Prime Minister preferences because at the end ministers were the one who have to share workload with their personal secretaries, if they don’t like to be working with the appointments made by PM than what’s the need of personal secretaries at all. It does raise a good question – What is the need of Ministers when Prime Minister is the one who is making all the decision?