NEW DELHI: The search for a new private secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has apparently ended with a 1997-batch Indian Foreign Service officer reportedly chosen to replace Vikram Misri, who will leave for Spain as Ambassador in August. It is learnt that Misri, a Joint Secretary-rank officer of the 1989 IFS batch, will be replaced by Sanjeev Singla, currently political counsellor in Tel Aviv, who is a director-rank officer.
Singla’s last posting in Delhi was as director in Foreign Secretary’s Office till mid-2013.
Earlier, the Ministry of External affairs (MEA) had sent a list of three names of Joint Secretary-rank officers to Prime Minister’s Office to choose the next private secretary, which is traditionally filled by an IFS officer.
Those in the fray included Vinay Kwatra, Joint Secretary (counter-terrorism) of 1988 batch and Santosh Jha, Joint Secretary (administration) of 1993 batch and Gopal Bagla, Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan.
However, the PMO returned the list and asked for more junior officers to be posted. The revised list, besides Singla included Prashant Agarwal (1998), India’s Consul General to Hong Kong and Munu Mahawar, who is currently director in the PMO.
Incidentally, a common characteristic among all the names, who were considered, was that they were proficient in Hindi. In fact, Kwatra is travelling with the PM to Brazil to do his personal translation, while Jha had done similar service in other bilateral meetings.
Singla, who is from Chandigarh, had earlier been posted as First Secretary at Indian High Commission in Bangladesh and also at the Indian Embassy in Paris.
He is likely to take over from Misri in August.
Misri has to wait till the present incumbent in Spain, Sunil Lall goes to his next posting as Ambassador to Brazil. That will only happen when the current Indian envoy to Brazil Ashok Tomar retires by August-end.