Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken along with him all his trusted lieutenants from Gujarat, including his Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jagdish Thakker, who was by his side like a shadow for the last 12 years and handled all his appointments. The team that has finally gone to the PMO from the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office includes IAS officer (1988 batch) Arvind K Sharma, whose formal orders are yet to be issued, and all of Modi’s personal assistants (PAs) — Om Prakash Singh, Dinesh Thakur and Tanmay Mehta, who will be in Delhi with him. All his PAs have their roots in the RSS.
Seventy-year old Thakker, who has been the PRO to Gujarat chief ministers from the time of Amarsinh Chaudhary of the Congress in 1989 to Modi, was Modi’s point person both at his office and residence. Thakker, a Gujarat Information Department Officer, has worked with Modi since October 2001 when the latter took charge as chief minister. The patient, soft-spoken Thakker began his career as a journalist in a language paper and was retained by Modi in the CMO even after his retirement in 2004. For more than a decade now, Thakker has moved with Modi like his shadow. Be it crucial meetings at CMO or Modi’s foreign tours to his exhaustive Lok Sabha 2014 campaign, Thakker was Modi’s constant companion. Sources in the CMO told this paper, “On May 22, when Modi was about to take the flight for Delhi, he took Thakker by surprise by asking him to pack his bags. Thakker was not prepared to move yet. But Modi was keen on taking him along.” According to sources, Thakker, whose family is settled in Gujarat, may prefer to come back once Modi has settled in his new office.
All the personal assistants whom Modi has retained have, like Thakker, worked with him since day one. Singh, Thakur and Mehta are from the RSS. Mehta was brought from the RSS by Modi to work with him in 1987 when Modi was general-secretary in charge of Gujarat. He used to spend most of his time in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as the “eyes and ears” of Modi .
Tanmay, believed to be from Vadnagar, is married and lives in Ahmedabad. When Modi became Gujarat’s chief minister, Mehta found a place in the CMO. Modi intends to put him in charge of the Varanasi constituency for which the PM has already announced plans and funds.
At the Swarnim Sankul-1 in Gandhinagar, which houses the CMO on the third floor, Singh, Thakur and Mehta’s name plates have already been removed to make way for the new CM Anandi Patel’s personal secretaries. They include Jignesh Desai and Keyur Sampat, who have moved from the revenue and urban development department on the second floor of the same building. While Singh hails from Rajasthan, Thakur comes from Uttar Pradesh. Both have managed Modi’s meetings and schedules and functioned as links with other leaders and officials for Modi.