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What files are Pranab-da's office staff shredding?

By R Jagannathan

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose tenure at North Block has gutted much of the economy and shredded all hopes of an early recovery, is performing his last two acts before he heads for the lawns of Rashtrapati Bhawan.

One, as we all know, he heads the Empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) that is supposed to set the spectrum price on Thursday (today). Two, his ministry is busy shredding tonnes of paper. It is buzzing with activity just when it should be winding down for the next incumbent.

A report in The Times of India says "the paper guzzlers have been working overtime" and the "50-man strong ministerial staff" have borrowed "shredding machines from across the ministry" to do their stuff.

 What files are Pranab-das office staff shredding?

For a man who was always No 2 and never got the top job for various reasons, the shredding could also have symbolic value: closing a chapter he never wants to return to. PTI

Two questions arise: what are the ministry's staff trying to destroy? Just old accumulated bumf that is gathering dust (why didn't they get rid of it earlier?), or sensitive files that Pranab-da and his staff do not want anyone else to see?

Given that the finance minister and his close advisor, Omita Paul, have been in a fair amount of controversies in the last four years, one cannot rule out the latter possibility. Let's also not forget, last year we even read reports that someone tried to bug his office - a report later denied.

The FM's role in the exit of the last Sebi chief (who was denied an extension on flimsy grounds), his run-ins with a former Sebi director (KM Abraham) and his ministry's efforts to appoint Omita Paul's brother Jitesh Khosla as chairman of UTI Mutual Fund are all well documented.

Read all about it here, and here, and here, and here, and here. But, of course, Pranab-da might just have accumulated truckloads of papers while heading over two dozen eGoMs and other official ministerial groups.

For a man who was always No 2 and never got the top job for various reasons, the shredding could also have symbolic value: closing a chapter he never wants to return to.

However, the ease with which ministries can destroy files is disconcerting. Shouldn't someone be asking whether there is an inventory of files shredded?

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2014 04:50:25 IST