From being bureaucrats to joining the BJP and now entering the council of ministers with independent charge – the Narendra Modigovernment has drawn up a ‘lateral entry’ formula for former top officials for results.
While the entry of former IAS officers RK Singh and Alphons Kannanthanam, former IFS officer Hardeep Singh Puriand former IPS officer Satyapal Singh surprised many on Saturday, the former three getting independent charge of key ministries on Sunday has spelt out a clear intent.
“The government wants to use the three-decade long or more bureaucratic experience of these officers in governance for delivery in the key schemes in the last lap before the 2019 elections. They know why work gets stuck in government, who poses obstacles and what is needed to get results,” a top government functionary told ET.
That said, all of the so-called ‘lateral entrants’ are BJP members well aware of political intricacies and two of them, RK Singh and Satyapal Singh are Lok Sabha MPs. The latter defeated Ajit Singh from Baghpat and joined BJP along with RK Singh and Puri in 2014. Alphons has been associated with the BJP for 8 years in Kerala.
That said, all four officers have not been given ministries pertaining to their domain but are expected to deliver in big priority areas of government. RK Singh has got large shoes to fill of Piyush Goel in power ministry where the rural electrification and 24-by-7 power projects are in their crucial stages.
So does Puri of stepping into the shoes of M Venkaiah Naidu at urban development ministry and perform on the big task of delivering on Smart Cities, Housing for All and Swachh Bharat (Urban) before 2019. Former DDA Commissioner Alphons Kannanthanam has got independent charge of tourism – an area where the PM is keen to push up foreign tourist inflow to help the economy. A senior functionary said there is little point in getting such officers but putting them as MoS under another minister. “We are giving them free hand,” he said.
Satyapal Singh will only be MoS in the HRD and Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry but with Nitin Gadkari handling many portfolios including the latter; Singh is expected to focus on the Nanami Gange project that PM holds dear to his heart and which is running far behind targets. BJP insiders also point to a political message behind these ‘lateral entries’. RK Singh is a Thakur leader from Bihar and Satyapal Singh fills the Jat void of Sanjeev Baliyan in West UP. Puri will be the only Sikh in the council of ministers besides Harsimarat Kaur Badal. Kannanthanam is a Christian who represents Kerala in BJP now.
As carried in timesofindia on 4.9.2017