Query: “Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before he came into politics, worked in any Ramlila troupe? If yes, what role he played?”
Reply: “Information sought is not part of record.”
THIS exchange is just one example of the nature of queries relating to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that have been raised by applicants and responded to by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
Another applicant wanted to know “how many and which type of cylinder” were “used in (the PM’s) kitchen” in October 2014 and May 2015. The applicant also sought “copies of bills of cylinders” and “copies of bills and spices” bought in May 2015. The PMO replied: “The kitchen expense of the Prime Minister is personal in nature and not incurred on government account.”
These queries and replies have been posted by the PMO on its website, with some of them providing an alternate narrative for those lamenting the decline of humour in politics. They include a request for the Prime Minister’s mobile number and an inquiry on whether he has even taken leave.
Even the PMO staff have not been spared — one applicant sought to know whether the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary has ever taken his colleagues out for a picnic.
Now consider these excerpts from some of the questions that the PMO has had to field — and the cryptic answers:
Q: Records and documents which show that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is the Prime Servant of India and not the Prime Minister.
A: “There is no proposal to change the official designation of PM.”
Q: Has the Prime Minister read the Indian constitution? Is the Prime Minister supposed to read the Indian constitution? Is the Prime Minister assumed to have read Indian constitution? Has anyone in the PMO till date told the Prime Minister what his duties are towards India?
A: “Information sought does not fall under the definition of information.”
Q: Who helps the Prime Minister in sending tweets in regional and foreign languages? Names of individual(s) for each regional language.
A: “Information sought is not maintained on record.” (Another reply says that the “Prime Minister himself is managing his personal social media accounts.”)
Q: Number of sick or casual or health leave availed by the Prime Minister in the last 10 years.
A: “No leave has been availed by the present Prime Minister since taking over the office.” (Replying to a related query on whether Prime Minister Modi was on leave during the Bihar election campaign last year, the PMO responded: “Tours on election campaign are not official.”)
Q: Percentage of marks Modi secured while graduating in 1977 from Delhi University.
A: “Does not form part of records.”
Q: Can one get the mobile number of the PM under RTI?
A: “The PMO has not given any mobile phone to Prime Minister.”
Q: Legal status of announcements made by the Prime Minister.
A: “Once the announcement is made, the ministries concerned are entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the announcements and monitoring their implementation.”
Q: Does the PMO communicate, send letters, etc., in the official language Hindi?
A: “Letters in Hindi received from Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, etc., are replied to in Hindi… Hindi letters from public are also replied in Hindi.”
Q: Roza iftar parties Prime Minister Modi attended in 2014 and 2015.
And finally this:
Q: Has the Principal Secretary to the PM, Nripendra Misra, ever taken his colleagues in the PMO on a picnic? If yes, who all went, how much money was spent, were family members also invited on such excursion, and what was the food menu? Was the food ordered from an external caterer? Was the venue fixed by general consensus or was it decided solely by Misra?
A: “No picnic/excursion was ever organised by Nripendra Misra.”