Modi's ministers get aides rooted in and churned out It was early in the morning on May 26, 2014, when a senior BJP leader was woken up by a phone call.
At the other end was louis vuitton mens damier bracelet Om Prakash Singh, the personal assistant to PM designate Narendra Modi. He requested the leader to make it to a breakfast meeting at Gujarat Bhavan in the Capital. It was only later, post meeting, that the leader realised Singh's call was the first formal hint of his induction into Modi's council of ministers later that day. Singh isn't just another faceless functionary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) or a hanger on given a posting. As executive assistant to Modi, he is one of the key men forming a ring around the Prime Minister, and therefore tasked with that phone call. He is part of a corridor that, metaphorically, leads to the door of the PMO one that most people, in or out of the government, have to cross to get to Modi. Having worked as Modi's personal assistant since 1998, when the latter was a BJP general secretary, Singh continued to serve him through his stint as Gujarat CM. Modi subsequently brought him to 7, Race Course Road, to be part of his personal staff. On the face of it, Singh may appear to be part of the Modi retinue due to personal loyalty. But look past the cover, say party veterans, and that face is one of an ideologically committed saffron affiliate an apparatchik, to borrow a phrase from the other end of the political spectrum. Singh is part of the first couple of batches trained by Surya Foundation, an organisation spearheaded by BJP National Executive member and industrialist Jai Prakash Agrawal that has groomed ideologically committed youth drawn from the wider saffron family since the mid 90s. More than half a dozen of the Foundation's trainees are part of the personal staff of different ministers. Singh is just one instance of the new gatekeepers around the political executive. Distinctly different from not just UPA 1 and 2 but all previous Union governments, including the different Janata experiments authentic louis vuitton bags 1 all barring Atal Bihari Vajpayee's NDA 1 to a large extent they are ideologically committed personnel, many of them with political ambitions, using these stints as a stepping stone to the big league. (From Left) Saffron activists Devi Dayal Gautam, Mukesh Shukla, Santosh Dubey And Deepak Pathak. Though gazetted officers are usually appointed private secretary (PS) to Union ministers to coordinate with the bureaucracy on policy issues, the personal staff of ministers have, over the years, included individuals who act louis vuitton bags from the 70&s as political gatekeepers for their ministers. They are a crucial cog in the wheel of most non official and political activities of the ministers. Over the decades, these political appointees and gazetted officers made themselves virtually indispensable on the strength of what they had successfully marketed as experience. As a result, outgoing ministers often recommended them to their successors, even cutting across party lines. Soon after taking over, however, Modi purged these established political gatekeepers of the UPA regime in a single stroke. He instructed his ministers to not employ any of the personal staff PS, assistant PS, personal assistant (PA) of UPA ministers, barring Grade III and IV staff. While gazetted officers got postings elsewhere, the real brunt was borne by individuals who enjoyed the fruits of power, being in vantage positions as shadow men of UPA ministers. Many of these men can still be spotted in Delhi's corridors of power, hesitating little in switching loyalty and ideology. But for now, there's no chink to be found. For, the gatekeepers selected by Modi's men are drawn from the pool of activists and workers trained in official work in the larger Sangh Parivar, and are experts at keeping hangers on at bay due to their ideological steadfastness. At least three dozen such functionaries now officially serve Union ministers, and at least 21 of Modi's ministerial colleagues have deployed them (see box). In contrast, most individuals employed by UPA ministers owed their jobs to the personal loyalty to the minister concerned. In some cases, sources say, these functionaries were inducted into the personal retinue of ministers following. requests from senior leaders in the saffron family. Then there are the leaders themselves who have nurtured, so to speak, these activists over the years as they themselves grew in stature within the party. LEARNING THE POLITICAL ROPES Take Vaibhav Dange, for instance. The organising secretary (sangathan mantri) of the RSS student wing ABVP in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra between 1996 and 1999, and later associated with the RSS's swadeshi movement and its unit called the Centre for Bharatiya Marketing Development in Delhi until 2006, Dange is now private secretary to Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. He had also worked with industry chamber FICCI between 2006 and 2010, and was first picked by Gadkari when the Maharashtra leader shifted to Delhi as BJP president. Gadkari got Dange's name cleared by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet as his PS, a post usually reserved for IAS officers, within months of taking charge in the ministry. Besides Dange, Shailesh Sharma, also a product of the Surya Foundation, and ABVP activist Deepak Pathak are among Gadkari's personal staff. Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, considered a quintessential BJP organisation man, has in his team BJP activists from varied places. For one, his assistant PS is old BJP hand Purushottam Kumar Singh. Then there is Ram Prakash, from the BJP's Uttarakhand unit; Deepak Kumar, who has worked in the party's Patna office; and Ashish Ranjan, BJP's IT Cell convenor in Motihari, genuine louis vuitton purses the minister's home constituency. Singh, Dange or Sharma are not seen as harbouring political ambitions, many of their newer counterparts working with Union ministers admit their desire to enter electoral politics in future. A few even talk about it openly. Y. Satya Kumar, an ABVP full timer in the Tirupati zone from 1989 92 who has worked with M. Venkaiah Naidu since 1993 94 and is at present the officer on special duty (OSD) to the minister for urban development, says, "Yes, I dream of joining politics some day", though he refuses to get drawn in further. Most others, however, say so on the conditionof anonymity. Some younger saffron activists assisting ministers are seen as biding their time to enter politics while they learn the ropes of governance. Mukesh Shukla, for instance. Shukla unsuccessfully contested the Delhi University Students' Union elections in 2008 as an ABVP candidate and is now part of Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan's personal staff at Krishi Bhavan. Nadda before he became health minister. Shukla has lived almost his entire youth working in the VHP office as his father was a VHP full timer. Then there is Nitin Sardare, a former Delhi municipal councillor who currently assists AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik. Ashok Tandon, who was media adviser to PM Vajpayee, finds nothing wrong in the appointment of ideologically committed people, however. "Such appointees were common in the personal staff of chief ministers as well as state government and Union ministers of the communist parties, the socialist parties and the BJP (or its earlier avatar as Jan Sangh)," Tandon tells India Today. One of these saffron associates highlights the virtue and necessity of their presence in the personal staff of ministers: "While an officer has a conventional bureaucratic approach towards dealing with issues, the ideologically committed personnel's reaction will be driven by the political mandate of the minister and the government. Advani, and even Amit Shah, benefitted from this system of mentoring by seniors. While Vajpayee served as a secretary to Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Advani cut his teeth in Delhi politics in 1957 as an assistant to Vajpayee, then a first term Lok Sabha MP.
Shah too got the taste of top level politics while assisting then Gujarat BJP chief Shankarsinh Vaghela during the 1995 assembly elections. Dhawan was inducted into Indira Gandhi's personal staff as stenographer and went on to become her PS, and subsequently a member of the Congress Working Committee, a Rajya Sabha member and even a minister such instances are few and far between. As are instances of ideologically committed aides to ministers.
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