Modi sarkar is busy in work, even in weekend. Call it beginner’s enthusiasm or mere showoff, the ministers are certainly shaking up the age old practices of bureaucracy leaving the babus huffing and puffing. Whether it will script a new chapter in governance in India is something only future can tell.
Narendra Modi so far has shown eagerness in bringing about structural changes in ways of governance than cosmetic changes like renaming airports and projects. On Saturday he took a major step in that direction abolishing all the Groups of Ministers (GOMs) and Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGOMs). On last count there were 21 GOM’s and 9 EGOM. EGOM are legacy of the UPA raj. At a time when Manmohan Singh was finding it difficult to take critical policy decisions without ruffling feathers those EGOM’s sort of acted as buffer to ease his pressure. But those empowered groups used to sit on projects for months thus delaying the process of decision making.
Narendra Modi by abolishing these “consensus building forums” has reaffirmed the message that he is the man in charge. In case of any dispute among ministries, he will act as the single window clearance which the GOM and EGOM used to do. This also puts the onus on Ministers to expedite their work. Congress though has criticized this step. According to Manish Tiwary often inter-ministerial groups helps to fine tune decisions, to bring multiple points of view to take the final call.
Congress has also found copious flaws with Modi sarkar’s 10 point agenda. Branding it as 10 Commandment, the ever articulate Shashi Tharoor has criticized the ideas for being vague. He believes Modi’s plan to have “people oriented programme” is a tacit admission that current government will follow UPA’s footsteps. Shashi alleges that most of the plans are short in specifics and some rehashed from earlier times.
Former Union Minister also warned the government against broaching sensitive issues like Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code at the very outset. Tharoor fears that these issues can divide India in bitter groups like never before.
Modi though has no time to listen to all these warnings. He is busy consolidating the support base BJP has developed in the general election. Modi today met party general secretaries and picked their brains on matters of governance. He also advised them to act as intermediary between the common people and government, so that real time feedback can be obtained on people’s demand. PM cautioned his party members not to drop guard after victory.
Elections are due shortly in Maharashtra and Haryana followed up with Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar in 2015. He asked all the secretaries to start groundwork in these battle ground states. Varun Gandhi after attending the meeting tweeted that it was extremely motivational. Modi is likely to meet more party workers and leaders on Sunday.
On the opposite side of political spectrum, Rahul Gandhi today visited Badaun and met the family of the two teenage girls who were brutally gangraped and left hanging from a tree. Gandhi demanded for a CBI probe in the incident. A team of National Council for Women has also reached the place. Facing flak, Akhilesh Yadav has now decided to recommend a CBI probe in this matter. All 5 accused have been arrested including the two policemen. Many though are questioning why Union Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi is yet to reach Badaun to express her solidarity with the distressed family.
Smriti Irani has shown rare grace which is now becoming fast extinct in Indian society. After reports came that 5 Delhi University staffs have been suspended for leaking confidential documents pertaining to educational qualifications of Irani, HRD Minister has reacted swiftly. Smriti on Twitter said that she has requested DU VC to revoke suspension of those 5 non-teaching staffs working in School of Open Learning. She said that in public life one should be ready to take criticism and scrutiny. Congress though refuses to let go of this issue. Soon Digvijay Singh tweeted that Smriti Irani should now clarify her educational qualification.
After Smriti Irani’s “request”, DU VC has taken a U-turn. According to VC Dinesh Singh he has got information that no one has been suspended but School of Open Learning has decided to be cautious to avoid repetition of such incidents.
A stark contrast from Smriti, Speaker of last Lok Sabha Meira Kumar is apparently even unwilling to tolerate factual reportage. In her last day in office before Kamal Nath took over as pro-tem speaker, she sacked CEO of Lok Sabha TV Rajiv Mishra. According to Mishra, Meira Kumar was unhappy that news of her trailing from Sasaram constituency was flashed in the channel!! Incidentally Meira Kumar lost the elections. The soft spoken Speaker was also reportedly angry with live telecast of BJP’s meet in Central Hall of Parliament in L.S. TV. It is to be seen if new government rehires Rajiv Mishra.
Industry body CII in a pre-budget meeting with Finance Ministry has given a host of suggestions. Among those are fast implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), reducing fiscal deficit by curbing subsidies and to fast track the process of economic reforms. The government has the mandate to take bold decisions but is expected to take cautious step as good economics can often lead to bad politics.
After Modi’s suggestion to think out of box to solve contentious issues all the ministers are trying to up their game. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has suggested that set top boxes should be made locally rather than procuring from other countries. According to him it will give boost to local industry and expedite the process of further digitization for which around 11 crores set top boxes are required. Minister said that he has started talks with commerce and finance ministry.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has spoken out on the issue of Article 370. According to him, Modi will come out with a structured response in the appropriate time. Prasad today played down the act of passing ordinance to amend TRAI Act saying that a small glitch in law was corrected. He also refused to say anything about if there will be any formal leader of Opposition claiming that it is prerogative of the Speaker to decide.
After violent windstorm in Delhi there was a massive power failure on Friday. Union Minister of State for Power in the government Piyush Goel worked with his team whole night upto 5.30 A.M to bring back the situation under control. He regularly posted updates on Twitter to inform Delhi citizens about the situation. Some may deride it as a P.R tactics but as long as it is helping the common folks they are unlikely to complain.
Even though there is no representation of Kerala and West Bengal in the Union cabinet, those two states are still in the radar of Modi sarkar. Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Pon Radhakrishnan said that they will look after Kerela’s development issues sympathetically. On the other hand BJP sent a fact finding team to Bengal to investigate alleged atrocity by TMC cadres against BJP workers. Leader of the fact finding team Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Modi sarkar will intervene if the need arises. Some interesting fodder for the future!
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…