Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das
Subramnian Swamy, the Bharatiya Janata Party's influential voice in the Rajya Sabha, has chosen Shaktikanta Das, secretary, economic affairs, for his next target.
And, in a repeat of Wednesday, when he'd asked for dismissal of the chief economic advisor (CEA), it was met by another vociferous defence of one of his bureaucrats by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
On Wednesday, Swamy had in a series of tweets demanded the the government dismiss Arvind Subramanian, the CEA, for alleged proximity to American interests.
On Thursday, Swamy said he was suspending the CEA demand, since the party and government had said they “know all about AS (Arvind Subramanian) but still he is an asset” and that he'd “wait for events to prove the truth”. The BJP had distanced itself from Swamy’s attack on Subramanian, with saying the government had “full confidence” in its CEA.
Das is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre. In reply to a tweet by someone that Das should be sent back to that state, Swamy said he thought there was a property deal charge pending against Das for assisting a senior Congress politician to “swallow Mahabalipuram prime locations”. Swamy named the politician in his tweet.
Jaitley tweeted: “An unfair and false attack on a disciplined civil servant.”
On Wednesday, Jaitley had defended Subramanian with vigour and cautioned against the trend of politicians attacking persons whose “office and discipline constrain them from responding”. In a reference to outgoing Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, the minister said this “has happened more than once”.
Swamy attended a meeting on Thursday of 'Sangh Parivar' bodies on the issue of a construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Asked about Jaitley’s defence of Subramanian, he said he wasn't concerned. “I can speak to the Prime Minister and party president (Amit Shah). Will talk to them when required. Right now, it's not needed, as I've said what I had to say.”
On Wednesday, after the BJP had said it didn’t agree with Swamy’s views on Subramanian, the Rajya Sabha member tweeted that he'd never claimed to speak on behalf of the BJP on Subramanian; he had done so as a nationalist.
While neither Das nor Subramanian have responded to the attacks by Swamy, finance ministry officials, who didn't want to be named, said that they were under no illusion that the target of Swamy's offensive was Finance Minister Jaitley and not his bureaucrats.
Das could not be contacted for comments.