Out of contention as he faces prosecution in Sohrabuddin Sheikh murder case

The Prime Minister’s Office requires a Minister of State, and former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, widely seen as the architect of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s seismic electoral victory, was rumoured to be tipped for the post. However, sources said, the fact that Mr. Shah faces criminal prosecution related to the alleged extrajudicial execution of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh placed him out of contention.

The other posts in the PMO are of the National Security Adviser, a Principal Secretary, a Secretary and a Joint Secretary, in addition to specialist advisers — very few considering that it is the most powerful office in India.

Mr. Modi’s office played a critical role in governance in Gujarat, fast-tracking key projects through the decision-making process — winning praise from private industry as well as key public-infrastructure advocates like E. Sreedharan, who helmed the Delhi Metro project.

The key figures in Mr. Modi’s Gujarat team are his Chief Principal Secretary, K. Kailashnathan, and his Additional Principal Secretary, A.K. Sharma. Gujarat’s Resident Commissioner in New Delhi, Bharat Lal, has played a key role in liaising with officials and politicians. However, Mr. Kailashnathan retired last year, making him ineligible for a top official position in the PMO. Mr. Sharma, a 1988-batch officer hailing from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, is considered too junior to run the PMO.

“I think you’ll find,” a party leader said, “that a lot of the names you’ve seen in the media have been shots in the dark. Mr. Modi had other things to think about, like winning an election.”

Discussions on

Mr. Modi met several senior BJP leaders through Sunday, firming up plans to form his Cabinet later this week. His visitors at Gujarat Bhawan, the State’s official residence in New Delhi, included Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Nagaland Chief Minister Niephiu Rio, and powerful party leaders from Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and H.N. Ananth Kumar.


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