The dust has not settled on the row over appointment of ministers’ aides in the NDA government.
Just ten days ago, a circular was issued to bar the assignment of officers who worked as members of personal staff of ministers in the UPA regime on similar posts under the current dispensation. But, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns from the Brics summit, he may have to take a fresh call on this government decision.
Since some ministers are still trying to get their favourite bureaucrats as private secretaries or officers on special duty, a file has been put up before the Prime Minister to seek “further clarification” on the matter.
After the NDA came to power, a government circular issued on June 19 put a blanket ban on posting babus as ministers’ personal staff if the officers had worked with any minister in a previous government. The directive also applied to private persons.
But on July 7, the government had to amend its order as many of its ministers pushed for bureaucrats with previous experience in ministers’ offices.
The latest directive prohibits posting of only those officers who were among personal staff of a minister in the last “ten years”, or the two terms of the UPA (2004-14).
According to sources, ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and VK Singh are keen to recruit some officers who have worked with UPA ministers.
A fresh clarification has been sought from the PM as he and home minister Rajnath Singh head the appointments committee of the cabinet, and Modi has been entrusted with the responsibility to address any disputes related to appointments.
According to the official version, the government’s stringent rules for these assignments are aimed to bring in transparency and fresh blood in ministerial offices. In his first meeting with the entire council of ministers, Prime Minister Modi had also told his colleagues to be careful in picking their aides.
It is felt that bureaucrats should also serve in their parent departments in different capacities and not just stick to ministers’ offices, said sources.