Dilli Ka Babu: PMO preps for 2019

However, sources say that Mr Ravi is likely to be the senior-most among Mr Doval's deputies, being a 1976-batch IPS officer.

Update: 2018-11-03 21:10 GMT
The draft report, however, cautioned that 'holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution'. (Representational Image)

Since May 2014, the Modi sarkar has pretty much been run from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). As the 2019 Lok Sabha elections approach, there are rumours that the PMO itself may be in for a revamp. Clearly this is an attempt to focus on vital issues of administration and governance. Those in the know believe that a senior IAS officer may also be moved out of the PMO to a vital department to effect a clean-up. Meanwhile, it is also being suggested that a senior IAS officer may be inducted into the PMO to assist PM Modi in dealing with macro issues.

Several other changes too are anticipated in the PMO’s team, with an eye on the impending elections. Apparently, two IAS officers are likely to be brought in at the additional secretary level and the joint secretary level. Reportedly, an IIT computer science graduate IAS from a northern state and another IAS officer, a joint secretary, with a private sector background from a southern state, may be inducted into Team PMO. One will be solely monitoring delivery of projects and another on the communications outreach strategy, both vital to PM Modi’s re-election ambitions.

PESB functioning paralysed

The scheduled interview for the post of chairman and managing director of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd has been postponed as the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) has been reduced to one member, and is practically dysfunctional. The Board has further decided to abstain from interviews until the appointments of a new chairman and members are announced. This is bound to create both chaos and spread dissatisfaction amongst top PSU managements.

This is perhaps the first time that this situation has occurred in the history of the Board. Former 1981-cadre IAS officer Madhusudan Prasad is the lone member of the selection board since acting PESB chairman Gauri Kumar retired last month.

Traditionally, PESB schedules interviews and informs the shortlisted candidates at least 15 days in advance. Since the Board appears clueless over the time-frames of appointments, it is constrained to post-pone interviews.

It may be mentioned that the four-member board (including chairman) became headless after Sanjay Kothari moved to Raisina Hill as secretary to the President of India in July 2017.

Doval to increase team strength

Former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, R.N. Ravi’s appointment as deputy national security adviser is being seen by observers as further strengthening the power of national security advisor Ajit Doval. Mr Ravi will be the third deputy to report to the NSA, the others being former R&AW secretary Rajinder Khanna and former diplomat Pankaj Saran.

However, sources say that Mr Ravi is likely to be the senior-most among Mr Doval’s deputies, being a 1976-batch IPS officer. Interestingly, both Mr Doval and Mr Ravi are Kerala-cadre IPS officers. Considered close to Mr Doval, Mr Ravi was the government’s interlocutor with the Naga insurgents and had a key role in the peace accord between the Centre and the insurgents.

Sources also point out that that Mr Ravi’s redesignation has brought the Joint Intelligence Committee completely under the control of the National Security Council secretariat. It is said that Mr Ravi will handle the internal part of India’s security policy while Mr Saran will look after external aspects. Mr Khanna will deal specifically with intelligence. There is also talk of a big expansion in the real estate that this new set-up will annex.

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