PMO Questions Ministers’ Choices for Private Secretaries

pmoNEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has put on hold the appointments of private secretaries to ministers including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.
Sources say the PM’s Office is debating whether to retain staff that have worked for ministers in the previous Congress-led regime, and will clear these appointments only after scrutiny.
The decision is likely to impact at least eight ministers. Rajnath Singh reportedly wanted Alok Singh, an IPS officer from Uttar Pradesh, as his personal secretary. Mr Singh had previously worked for former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
Smriti Irani, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Kiren Rijiju and Najma Heptulla may also have to let go of their personal secretaries, if the government decides against retaining officials who worked for the previous regime.A minister’s personal staff has direct access to important files and policy decisions of the government.
Sources said all such appointments were on hold; if some officials were asked to go, “it won’t be a reflection on their competence.” Government sources also cite a rule passed by the earlier UPA government that said a minister’s personal staff should not be on deputation for over five years.
The move raised speculation about the Modi government’s reluctance to trust officials who worked for UPA ministers.

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