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'Outsider' Modi warms to Lutyens'

Four insiders in government

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 4.09.17

New Delhi, Sept. 3: When he became Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi had been happy letting himself be portrayed as an "outsider" in New Delhi, allergic to the capital's "Lutyens cabal".

The perception, which prompted his bhakts to regularly troll the city's chattering classes as uppity and parasitic, was deepened when he told CNN-News18 last year: "In Delhi's power corridors, there's an active group of people which is dedicated to only a few."

Today, going by some of the new faces Modi has handpicked for his ministry, it seems he has finally found his groove in Lutyens' Delhi.

Former home secretary R.K. Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner Satya Pal Singh, ex-diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri and retired IAS Alphons Kannanthanam had all joined the BJP only after retirement, bringing the reviled Lutyens' circuit right into the core of the Modi administration.

Modi's ministry already boasted seasoned Delhi faces like Arun Jaitley, Piyush Goyal and M.J. Akbar, with their own networks in the capital's affluent society, but their backgrounds in law, banking and journalism perhaps helped them avoid the "Lutyens" tag.

The Prime Minister had in an interview a year ago accused Lutyens' Delhi of making fun of not just him but also Vallabhbhai Patel (as a "simple intellect"), Morarji Desai (for what he drank), H.D. Deve Gowda (as a "farmer's son" who "only sleeps"), Charan Singh and B.R. Ambedkar "who they are praising today".

"These custodians who are dedicated to a select few will never accept anyone who is linked to the roots of this country. So I too do not want to waste my time addressing this group," he had said.