New Delhi :  Sixtynine-year-old Nripendra Misra, who could become the PM”s principal secretary only by amending the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) Act to remove his ineligibility for the post, has lost lustre of the high office he holds. He has been reduced to look after only the infrastructure while all key responsibilities in the PMO have been transferred to PM’s favourite Dr P K Mishra (68) who holds the post of the PM’s additional principal secretary.

Mishra, a 1972 batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre who retired in 2008, has been authorised to scrutinise all Cabinet notes and attend the Union Cabinet meetings from the PMO, and not principal secretary Misra. The work of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) that makes all high post appointments has also been allotted to him.

He has rather, in fact, encroached upon even the domain of the Cabinet Secretary who is to preside over the meetings of the secretaries. An order has been issued sidelining cabinet secretary Ajit Sethi, empowering Dr Mishra to convene the meetings of the secretaries to sort out issues requiring inter-ministerial consultations.

Officials in the PMO sought to stress that the PM”s principal secretary has not been sidelined but rather given the responsibility of full concentration on the infrastructure development since Prime Minister Modi gives it the highest importance and hence the administrative responsibilities have been transferred to Dr Mishra as No 2 in the PMO.

Sources privy to the new style of working in the PMO say Dr Mishra is Modi”s man of full trust and hence Modi roped him in to advise and handle all key works to involve the PM like the Cabinet meetings, appointments of the top bureaucrats, etc.

Mishra was the principal secretary to Modi from 2001 to 2004 during his tenure as the Gujarat chief minister. After a two-year stint as the union agriculture secretary, Mishra retired in 2006, but he was immediately made the chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission for five years. He continued to assist Modi in this post-retirement job.

Modi has rather brought more than 100 officers and other staff, including his personal assistants (PAs), from Gujarat because they enjoy his confidence and he feels at home interacting with them in Gujarati, sources said.

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