Madhavan Nair row: PMO in a bind

BANGALORE: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) controversy over banning its former chief G Madhavan Nair & company and the subsequent univocal outrage by the scientific community acr

Published: 30th January 2012 05:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:25 PM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) controversy over banning its former chief G Madhavan Nair & company and the subsequent univocal outrage by the scientific community across India, has put the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a tough spot of bother. Sources tell Express that there are divided opinions in the PMO over the way the ban order was executed with the post-ban episodes creating major embarrassments, adding Minister of State in PMO V Narayanaswamy’s comments on ‘teaching scientists a lesson’ have boomeranged on the government.

“There are concerns and I can’t go into specific details now. The ban matter will come up for a detailed discussion this week,” a top source said.

When asked whether the ‘detailed discussion’ will result in a possible recall of the ban order, the official said: “That’s only a possibility.” Sources said that the massive support to Nair from senior scientists has put the PMO on a back foot.

Sources say that there’s a strong anti-Madhavan Nair lobby working overtime in the PMO, especially targeting all those who were backed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s one-time powerful Principal Secretary T K A Nair (now eased out to an advisor role).

Sources say that in the process of making a ‘vibrant PMO’ and to give it an ‘assertive image’, there is a working script now in play, 24x7. “There are some more changes likely to happen at the PMO in the coming days.

I can’t comment on whether the Madhavan Nair episode has any links to the newfound philosophy of the PMO,” sources said.

Back in Bangalore, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan continued his maun vrat and this might be on for some more days. “He has been asked to do so after seeing a response to Narayanaswamy’s remarks. Right now, the PMO is keen to find a solution,” sources said.

But, an insider at ISRO headquarters said that Radhakrishnan might issue a statement sooner or later, a fact which wasn’t confirmed by his media managers.

Nair chose to stay away from the war of words on Sunday, but a close aide said that the blueprint for a counter- strategy is in place. “The letter issued and its format are all in clear deviation from normal government norms.

We have enough evidence that it was typed by Radhakrishnan himself at his residence and then made to sign by his junior colleague. He (Madhavan Nair) is not a college student to issue a two-page ban order. Everything will be exposed soon enough,” sources said

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