No say for Rajnath in appointments: Is Modi making minions of his ministers?

The Opposition has already begun to jeer. Digvijaya and Azad have asked Rajnath not to give up his captaincy.

FP Politics August 13, 2014 08:53:12 IST
No say for Rajnath in appointments: Is Modi making minions of his ministers?

Just when it appeared that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was coming into his own with his Vajpayee-like comments on insaniyat (humanity) in dealing with the Kashmir question, it has emerged that the former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party is little more than a rubber stamp in the process of selection of senior bureaucrats. Other ministers had been kept out by the PMO already.

No say for Rajnath in appointments Is Modi making minions of his ministers

Rajnath Singh. Reuters.

A report in The Indian Express explains that while the procedure for appointments until now has been that the Cabinet Secretary sends files on appointments to the Home Minister for his approval followed by a ratification by the PMO, the procedure being followed now under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that the PMO's sanction is obtained first, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) then issues an order regarding the new posting of the officer and the file then travels to the Home Minister for his signature.

The report says: Home Minister Rajnath Singh has to now merely sign on the dotted line after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved an appointment. The bold print at the bottom of most proposals to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) says: “Approval of the Home Minister will be obtained ex post facto in the ACC.”

The new ACC, incidentally, comprises the PM and the home minister. Needless to say, this quite literally means that the prime minister exercises complete and sole control over appointments of senior bureaucrats.

The report adds that this is a marked departure from the past, when the Home Minister had the first say after the opinion of the minister of the department concerned. The administrative minister was also a member of the ACC earlier.

Through the election campaign, Rajnath, then BJP president, was widely seen as the party's 'Plan B' if the NDA failed to mop up the numbers for a majority government on their own and if potential allies refused to accept Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate.

Now, the Opposition has already initiated a sneer campaign, with Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad appearing to mock him during discussions in the Rajya Sabha on Monday evening regarding the functioning of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Digvijaya said Rajnath, also of the Thakur caste, should channel his inner 'Kshatriyatva' to fight for his due. Leader of the Opposition in the upper house Azad said, "Don't give up your captaincy. Don't let those who try to interfere take away your captaincy." Digvijaya even asked whether rumours that the Home Minister could not even make appointments to the Delhi Police were true.

According to a report in The Times of India, "The swipes were couched in banter, but formed part of Congress's narrative about all the powers under the NDA being concentrated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the detriment of even senior ministers like Rajnath."

As Singh launched into a series of replies to queries on his department, his speech lasted nearly two hours, leading to more jibes against the home minister.

A report in The Hindu Businessline said Commerce Minister Anand Sharma was seen folding his hands in resignation as members of the Rajya Sabha requested the minister to conclude his reply around 9 pm. According to the report: Yechury was earlier heard asking the Minister, “Have you heard of verbal terrorism sir? I am giving you a clue here. It is happening.”

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