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To discourage the system of ministers appointing relatives as personal staff, the Modi government, in its first order, said ministers would have to choose from a general pool. The circular, though restricted to ministers, was meant to send a message down the rank and file.
But BJP’s Priyanka Singh Rawat, a 27-year-old first-time MP from Barabanki, has officially appointed her father as her representative for all government and development work in her constituency.
She issued her own circular, signing it on May 26, the day Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister. It clearly states that Uttam Ram, a retired Provincial Development Services officer, has been appointed as her representative, and is authorised to conduct all government and development work. Copies of the circular have been sent to all district officers including the district magistrate and superintendent of police.
Priyanka, who defeated Congress MP P L Punia, said she appointed her father to avoid deepening the divide within the local BJP unit.
“Everybody knows that the BJP in Barabanki is divided in two factions led by the present district president and the former one. If I had appointed a party man from one group, the other group would have opposed it. So, I appointed my father who is also my political guru,” she told The Indian Express.
Her father Uttam Ram said he was appointed before the circular from the Department of Personnel and Training became known. Priyanka is married to Raghuram, an Indian Revenue Services officer.
Sharad Awasthi, the district unit BJP president, claimed that Priyanka never sought his advice on appointment of a representative.
When she was reminded about the DoPT circular, Priyanka said there was no option since the two BJP factions in Barabanki would have made it a prestige issue.
“My father is also a very old BJP worker though he was not on any post. I tried my best to patch up the two groups but failed,” she said.
Uttam Ram, who retired as a block development officer, said: “For me, the post is irrelevant. I have held a chair for long. She is a new MP and may not be able to devote time in Barabanki due to her engagements in Delhi. It is the discretion of the MP to appoint anyone as her representative.”