Modi’s close watch on ministers

New Delhi: Now, it’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s time to find out all the flaws & faults by his ministers.

He is firewalling himself with various elementary and eminently doable methods that Manmohan Singh could have employed but did not – because of the ‘coalition dharma’, or because of oversight or simply because of the fact that he had more pressing issues to attend.

But Modi, a practitioner of Chanakya Niti to the hilt, understands that he cannot be a good shepherd until he keeps a close eye on all his sheep. It is only then that one would know which ones are the black sheep.

And one of the basic tenets of Chanakya Niti is: “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail. Every effective performance is based on thorough preparation.”

Thus, PM Modi is employing all possible means to closely monitor his ministerial colleagues to prevent something he dreads most: scams.

In his heart of hearts, Modi knows that if he has scripted electoral history in the 2014 elections he has been able to do so only because the UPA government was way too crass about nipping scams in the bud.images (2)

PM Modi’s sharp gaze is pointed in all directions and covers each of his 44 ministers. He has put his loyal bureaucrats in all ministries. He has taken more special precautions with regard to ministries which are scam-prone and without which corrupt practices cannot take shape.

His biggest weapon in this invisible war within is his most trusted lieutenant Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor. In fact, it would be well nigh impossible to carry out such covert operations to monitor his ministers without the logistic and technical guidance from Doval.

So much so that some ministers are engaging professionals privately to ‘clean’ their cars of possible bugging devices before they get inside!

Here is how PM Modi has been donning the mantle of an ancient king in keeping a close vigil on what his ministers have been doing – or not doing.

Two security guards have been posted right outside the office of oil and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan. They keep a strict tab on who is meeting the minister. Pradhan’s ministry is cash-rich and thus scam-prone, because just one signature of the minister can result in the outflow of government money worth hundreds or even thousands of crores of rupees.

Incidentally, Pradhan happens to be among the few ministers who could not carry out his press conference on the completion of 100 days of the Modi government. The reason: Modi did not give him permission to do so.

Insiders reveal that Pradhan was all ready with a list of “achievements” of his ministry in the first 100 days of the government and had even a detailed press release prepared for the occasion. But Modi did not give him the go-ahead as he felt that Pradhan did not have the kind of “achievements” in 100 days that he could truly boast about.

Piyush Goel, who holds three ministerial portfolios including coal and power, is another minister under the gaze of PM Modi.

Modi has got a senior Gujarat-cadre bureaucrat installed in the power ministry to keep a tab on crucial decisions being taken by this other cash-rich and scam-prone ministry. With the help of this bureaucrat Modi has been able to track even the movements of all important files in the ministry.

Modi has not spared even his closest confidante Arun Jaitley, who holds three portfolios including finance and defence. Just a few days ago, Modi placed another Gujarat cadre officer Hasmukh Adhia in the finance ministry.

The 1981 batch IAS officer has just been appointed as secretary in the finance ministry’s Department of Financial Services. Adhia is practically Modi’s eyes and ears in the all-important finance ministry.

Moreover, the PMO has wrested control from the finance ministry when it comes to dealing with the menace of non-performing assets (NPAs) of public sector banks which are worth over Rs two lakh crore or over $33 billion, clearly the biggest challenge before the Government of India and not just the finance ministry.

A celebrity industrialist was recently dubbed as a ‘willful defaulter’ by the government. He approached Jaitley complaining against the alleged ham-handed treatment meted out to him. In response Jaitely told him that it was the PMO, not the finance ministry that is dealing with the larger issue of NPAs and thus his case was out of his purview.

In fact, the PMO has the entire list of NPAs and is monitoring the issue.

In a nutshell, PM Modi has been highly circumspect in nipping potential scams in the bud. He has been using the bureaucracy to the hilt in this endeavour knowing full well that scams cannot take place without the connivance of the bureaucracy.

Moreover, he has openly exhorted all bureaucrats to reach out to him directly if they feel their seniors or ministers are forcing them to do something illegal.

While all such steps are laudable, there is a flip side too. Such tight controls may also trigger decision paralysis, something that the BJP had consistently attacked the UPA 2 government for.

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