NEW DELHI:The balance of power is clearly shifting towards Gujarat. It’s not just about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also about the quantum and quality of Gujarat cadre officers moving to the power corridors in the capital. Since Modi has taken over, 20 Gujarat-based officers have shifted their base to Delhi, and all are wielding powerful posts in the government.
If Kerala babus ruled the roost during the UPA regime, now it is the Gujarat cadre officials, well versed in Modi model of development, calling the shots. Right from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to the additional secretary level, the officers from Modi’s State are leaving their imprints; not just by numbers but also by their clout.
The latest evidence of Gujarati domination was in the list of IAS officers, who have been empanelled as additional secretaries. Of the 51 officers empanelled, four were from the PM’s state, which is the highest. The names include Anil Gopishankar Mukim, Atanu Chakraborty, Anand Mohan Tiwari and Girish C Murmu. These officials, who were holding important positions in the Gujarat administration during Modi’s tenure as the Chief Minister, are learnt to have been hand-picked by the PM himself.
This happened in the last week of June and in the first week of this month; Modi government had appointed Gujarat-cadre officers in powerful posts. Of the 17 secretary-level appointments, two were from Gujarat. The appointments were that of Pradeep Kumar Pujari and Rita A Teaotia as power and commerce secretaries respectively. The two joined the already powerful lot of Gujarat cadre secretaries in Delhi, including Hasmukh Adhiya, who was appointed as Finance Secretary; Gauri Kumar, Secretary Cabinet (co-ordination); and Vijay Laxmi Joshi, who heads rural sanitation.
Earlier in April, three IAS officers from Gujarat - one time trusted aides of Modi in the state - were moved to Delhi and posted as joint secretaries in crucial posts. They were Murmu, R P Gupta and Rajkumar. While Murmu who was the principal secretary to the Chief Minister, Rajkumar was credited with bringing in bar-coded ration cards and digitising the civil supply system.
In April itself, Modi government had appointed Achal Kumar Joti, a 1975-batch IAS officer, as Election Commissioner. He was the chief secretary in Gujarat from 2010 to 2013. The appointment is important because all crucial Assembly polls which are to take place in the coming months including that of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Gujarat, will take place during Joti’s term. “It is a fact that there have been many cases of Gujarat cadre officers moving to Delhi. But it is not just a case of PM showing affinity to his state cadre officers, but it is all about track record and capabilities,” a secretary-level officer told Express.
Behind all these appointments are a powerful set of Gujarat-cadre officers, who had moved to PMO along with Modi. The prominent name is that of P K Mishra, additional principal secretary to the Prime Minister. This 1972-batch IAS officer, who reports directly to Modi, is considered among the most powerful in the South Block office. He was principal secretary to Modi during the most crucial phase in Modi’s career as CM.