ANALYSIS | National

With Sharma’s nomination to U.P. Legislative Council, Modi turns to a trusted bureaucrat again

Former IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma (centre) joined the BJP in the presence of U.P. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma (third from right) and the party’s U.P. unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh in Lucknow on January 14, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@BJP4UP  

Former bureaucrat A.K. Sharma’s nomination to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council by the BJP on Friday, a day after he joined the State unit of the party, has set off speculation that he may be made a Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government and given important infrastructure-related portfolios, as the BJP wants to give a turbo push to such projects in the run-up to the 2022 Assembly poll.

If these events come to pass, which they likely will, it will be one in a line of long careers that bureaucrats in the confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have had since he came to power in Delhi.

 

Mr. Sharma, who served in Mr. Modi’s PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) handling infrastructure-related projects, had been with him even in the Gujarat Chief Minister’s office. He moved to Delhi and settled in the PMO. His move to Lucknow is a sign that when it comes to getting the job done to Mr. Modi’s satisfaction, the latter prefers his trusted bureaucrats, calling on skills of handling administration coupled with the nuances they have picked up in handling the roles of the very political offices they have served in.

A similar example, though not exactly the same, is that of current Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of India, G.C. Murmu, who had served as Principal Secretary to Mr. Modi while the latter was Chief Minister of Gujarat and had been appointed as the first Lt. Governor of the newly reconstituted Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. His tenure saw much of the administrative nitty-gritty of decoupling Jammu and Kashmir from Ladakh being done and much of the ground work for the conduct of the District Development Council poll being laid.

The trend of long careers in semi-political positions, even post retirement, for bureaucrats who have served Mr. Modi in the past during his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister has now become quite common.

K. Kailashnathan, who had joined Mr. Modi’s CMO in Gandhinagar in 2006 as his Principal Secretary, has had an an uninterrupted stint there, even after retirement. He now serves as Chief Principal Secretary in the Gujarat CMO, having had six extensions in the job since he retired as Additional Chief Secretary to Mr. Modi in May 2013. A source in Gandhinagar terms Mr. Kailashnathan as the “keeper of the institutional memory” of Mr. Modi’s CMO and is relied upon on major policy issues and during tricky political turns.

The long careers and changing roles of these bureaucrats demonstrate that Mr. Modi’s circle of trust is largely immutable and of long duration. For bureaucrats serving under him, the long walk to retirement is longer still.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 6:56:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/with-sharmas-nomination-to-up-legislative-council-modi-turns-to-a-trusted-bureaucrat-again/article33579083.ece

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