Union ministers under watch through their Private Secretaries

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is virtually putting all union ministers under surveillance by withdrawing their choice to appoint their Private Secretaries (PS) and giving powers to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to select them, who can regularly keep it abreast of the concerned ministers' activities.

Until 2014, the ministers always had the sole prerogative of selecting the staff of their choice, including the PS through whom they used to operate and pass the orders. The practice was changed since 2014 to let the ministers recommend the staff they wants and PMO used to take the final decision on who, including the PS, is allotted to a minister.

Even that small freedom of making the recommendations has been withdrawn in an order just sent out by the PMO, informing the ministers that they need not suggest any names, but accept whosoever is allotted to them, particularly as their PS. This is in addition to a new practice in vogue since 2014 in posting of the RSS hands in the ministers' offices.

The PMO sources claim the new system in the appointment of the PS has been evolved in the context of the improprieties by a certain PS to a former minister of state, who has been dropped in the reshuffle. There are at least three Cabinet ministers who never had a PS in the Modi 2.0 government, after the PMO had turned down their recommendations and they preferred to operate with a PS instead of accepting the names suggested by the PMO.

On condition of anonymity, an official said the Prime Minister personally cleared the order that all the PSs to the ministers will be picked up by the highest office of the PMO to ensure the ministers are always under a close watch.

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