The NDA government on Thursday ordered all ministers not to appoint officers who had served on the ministerial staff in the previous UPA government. Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office diktat, sent by the cabinet secretary, said no official/officer who had earlier worked as a personal staff of a union minister of the previous regime “in any capacity” be considered for appointment as personal staff of a union minister.
They said a formal order was dispatched to the ministers’ office by the Department of Personnel & Training late evening. Earlier, the buzz was that PM Narendra Modi had issued verbal instructions to his Council of Ministers to avoid proposing names of officers who had served closely with ministers in the UPA regime.
This whisper followed after Modi held back the appointment of a private secretary to Home Minister Rajnath Singh as the latter’s candidate Alok Singh, a 1995 batch IPS officer, had served as private secretary to former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid.
The appointments of Abhinav Kumar and Rajesh Kumar, as PS to Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and MoS for External Affairs V K Singh respectively, were not cleared either. Abhinav was PS with Shashi Tharoor and Rajesh was PS with Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
The DoPT, which Modi heads as the Prime Minister, had earlier asked all ministries to take prior approval of the appointments Committee of the cabinet before appointing a PS or an officer on special duty to a minister.
“All the ministries and departments are, therefore, advised to ensure strict compliance of the laid down procedures for all appointments including OSD in the personal staff of the ministers,” said the DoPT order dated May 26.
While the PMO has decided to stop appointments of officials from the UPA regime, a day earlier Modi had appointed Rajeev Topno, who worked as a director in Manmohan Singh’s PMO, as his private secretary. Topno is a 1996-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre who was chargesheeted by Modi as Gujarat chief minister for irregularities in allotting shops to the 2011 earthquake victims. Topno was the district development officer in quake-hit Kutch.
Under Modi, the PMO started on a controversial note when former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Nripendra Mishra was appointed principal secretary to the PM. To enable Mishra to take charge, an ordinance had to be brought in to change the appointment rules in the TRAI Act.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.