Rajnath caretaker for ‘urgent biz’, PM to keep tabs

  • Kumar Uttam and Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 27, 2014 00:32 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will keep a close watch on the functioning of his government during his US visit even as home minister Rajnath Singh has been entrusted with the additional responsibility of handling any “urgent business”.

The government has not officially appointed any cabinet minister as second-in-command for this interim period. A note from the cabinet secretariat, before Modi left for the US, however reads, “The PM has directed that during the period of his absence on foreign tour from September 25 to October 1, urgent business may be put up before the Union Home Minister for disposal.”

Top sources told HT that all departmental secretaries have also been asked to report key issues and developments related to the ministries to cabinet secretary Ajit Seth. In Seth’s absence, notes on important issues have to be directed to JP Prakash, additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat.

“The cabinet secretariat would be providing daily reports to the PM in US, compiling the notes sent by different ministries and departments,” said a source.

“In this age of communication, there will never be a problem in communicating with the PM even when he is abroad,” said another bureaucrat.

Meanwhile, Singh’s additional responsibility comes at a time when finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley is in hospital and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is in the US.

Government sources also added that keeping in mind well-established norms, the union cabinet will not meet till the PM is back and no major decisions would be announced from New Delhi in Modi’s absence. “The day to day activity of a ministry will be taken care of by the minister and bureaucrats,” a source said.

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