Modi may retain PMO team: Nripendra Misra could remain principal secretary

Nripendra Misra
The Narendra Modi government, which has begun its second term with focus on improving economic growth and investment climate, along with employment generation, is likely to retain some of its top bureaucrats in their current positions so that decisions can be fast-tracked in several critical areas, sources in the know said.

In that backdrop, there’s a strong possibility of a status quo at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as far as the top officials are concerned, at least two of the sources pointed out. However, on whether such a call had been taken, a senior official representing the government replied, “speculative”.

At the PMO, Nripendra Misra’s term as principal secretary to the Prime Minister was co-terminus with Modi’s during his first stint. There has been no announcement so far of Misra, a 1967 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS, being re-appointed to the same post after the new government took charge 10 days ago. Sources indicated that Misra was likely to stay. P K Mishra, who was additional principal secretary to the PM since June 10, 2014, has also not been reappointed so far. The 1972 batch Gujarat cadre officer, who’s worked with Modi even before he became the PM, is likely to get another term as well at the PMO.

P K Mishra

In one of the first decisions of the Modi 2.0 government, a top official at the PMO, Ajit Doval, a 1968-batch IPS from Kerala, was re-appointed National Security Advisor (NSA) for five years with an elevated rank of a Cabinet minister. This followed the formation of a new council of ministers and inclusion of former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, a 1977-batch IFS, as the Cabinet minister for External Affairs.

In another sign that this government would like continuity for some time, the term of Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha was extended by three months recently, making it his third extension. The 1977-batch UP cadre officer was appointed cabinet secretary in 2015 for two years and he had got two extensions earlier, for one year each in 2017 and 2018.

In a similar move, the term of Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, a 1982-batch West Bengal cadre IAS, who was due to retire last month, was extended for three months.

Niti Aayog too witnessed the message of continuity last week when Rajiv Kumar was reappointed Vice-Chairman. The first governing council meeting of the newly constituted NITI Aayog on June 15 will be chaired by the PM. While there has been a buzz about NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, a 1980-batch Kerala cadre IAS, moving to the PMO, it is likely that he too would remain in the same post for the present.

In a significant development, the government reconstituted six Cabinet committees and set up two new ones within the first week of taking charge. The new committees, to be headed by the PM, are on investment and employment, thereby setting the priorities of the government.

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