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Just arrived, from Gujarat

New Delhi, June 10: The buzzword in South Block that houses the Prime Minister’s Office is “wafadaari”. Loyalty, the English transliteration, does not do justice to the intensity of the Urdu word.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “wafadaars” consist of almost the entire team that served him in Gujarat for years.

From the third floor of Gandhinagar’s Swarnim Sankul (golden complex), the seat of the chief minister’s secretariat, Modi’s “wafadaars” have relocated to South Block.

P.K. Mishra, who was Modi’s principal secretary from 2001 to 2009 and was later appointed agriculture secretary in Delhi, returns to his former chief as an additional principal secretary.

Joining Mishra will be Arvind Kumar Sharma, who was Modi’s additional principal secretary. Although Sharma is from the Gujarat cadre, he traces his origins to Azamgarh in eastern Uttar Pradesh and has “deep knowledge” of the complex region.

Others to travel north from the west are Sanjay Bhavsar, Modi’s officer on special duty, Hiren Joshi, O.P. Singh Chandel, Tanmay Mehta, Dinesh Thakur and Pratik Doshi.

Joshi managed Modi’s social media mission that included raising volunteers to monitor his Twitter and Facebook accounts in the prelude to the 2014 campaign. Originally from Bhilwara in Rajasthan, Joshi has a BTech from Pune and a PhD from Gwalior’s Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management.

Chandel (OP to friends), Mehta and Thakur were drawn from the RSS’s pool of human resources. Chandel and Thakur worked at the BJP headquarters for K.N. Govindacharya and Modi when they were general secretaries.

Doshi had joined Modi’s CMO as an intern on a fellowship the chief minister had created for freshly minted graduates keen on acquainting themselves with the working of a government. Modi was reportedly so impressed with Doshi that he absorbed him in his office and appointed him research assistant.

Bharat Lal, Gujarat’s resident commissioner in Delhi, has joined the team as a joint secretary.

Modi has left behind three “wafadaars” to help his successor Anandiben Patel: K. Kailasanathan, G.C. Murmu and Vijay Nehra.

Panel shift

Modi has “discontinued” four standing committees of the cabinet, transferring their functions to others. The committees dealt with prices, the Unique Identification Authority of India, world trade and natural calamities.

The first three issues will now be handled by the cabinet committee on economic affairs and the last by a panel headed by the cabinet secretary.

The government has reissued a code cleared by the UPA that asks ministers to disclose assets and business interests of family members. The code is expected to be changed to define the word “family”.


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