Narendra Modi on Wednesday promoted Rajiv Topno, a key officer in Manmohan Singh’s team, as his private secretary while cancelling the appointment of Rajiv Nayan Choubey, whom he had picked to take over as additional secretary in the PMO.
Topno, a 1996-batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, will replace IS Chaturvedi. In Singh’s PMO, Topno handled key portfolios like telecom and ports. Sources said Topno was looking after matters related to key appointments in the past two weeks. “He is a bright, clean and efficient officer”, a former colleague of Topno’s said.
Top bureaucratic sources said Modi had decided against Choubey’s appointment in the PMO as the officer was slated to attain secretary rank soon and the PM was not keen on making his office top-heavy. Choubey has served in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and is believed to have enjoyed the confidence of the then TRAI chairman Nripendra Mishra, now principal secretary in the PMO.
In 2011, the Modi government in Gujarat had issued a charge sheet against Topno for alleged irregularities in allotting shops to victims of the 2001 earthquake. Topno was district development officer in Kutch at the time. “He was not promoted for a year but was cleared of all charges and subsequently promoted to secretary level,” a Gujarat government official said.