Sunday, January 24, 2021

Fly on the Wall | Modi’s baffling gift to Yogi

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Modi’s baffling gift to Yogi

The nomination of A K Sharma, Prime Minister Modi’s most trusted bureaucrat, as BJP MLC in UP continues to baffle the political class. Sharma was among Modi’s inner circle of officers when he was Chief Minister of Gujrat in 2001. Be it P K Mishra, K Kailashnathan, J C Murmu, R K Asthana, A K Sharma etc, they were all part of Modi’s CMO. When Modi moved to Delhi in 2014, a battery of around 12 officers moved along. But Modi decided to keep K Kailashnathan in Ahmedabad itself as Anandiben Patel’s CMO. The status of KK, as Kailashnathan is known in the bureaucratic fraternity, didn’t change even after Vijay Rupani took over as CM. KK was Chief Principal Secretary of Modi in 2013 and remains so in 2021 irrespective of who is CM, Gujrat. He is considered “Saheb’s proxy” because Modi talks only to KK and the wheels of administration move accordingly. PK Mishra replaced Nripendra Mishra as Principal Secretary in the PMO and RK Asthana continues to be a powerful IPS officer. J C Murmu was made Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir to be Modi’s eyes & ears in Srinagar. But somehow, he could not pass the muster and was brought back to Delhi as CAG. Therefore, the shifting of A K Sharma being sent to UP for a political inning is baffling given Modi's style of functioning. No one in the BJP handling UP affairs was willing to throw any light as to how A K Sharma was chosen as MLC? Who proposed his name? And why did Modi lend his most-trusted officer to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath? If he was most trusted, then why was he ousted from the PMO in the first place in 2020?

Another KK in Lucknow?

It is no secret that Yogi Adityanath is on his trip in UP and not like other BJP Chief Ministers who pay obeisance to political masters. Insiders in the BJP say that Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappayu is another pain in the neck of the party high command. Yogi doesn’t take the call of many senior leaders. The Central high command was also upset after Yogi Adityanath cut Sunil Bansal, the unquestioned king of Lucknow to run the affairs, to size.
Lately, there have been issues relating to handling crimes in the state and law & order problem, the latest being the Hathras case. Many complain that Yogi has not risen from caste-politics either despite being a loner, unmarried and honest. One school of thought is that it was Yogi who requested the high command to give him a competent person as he doesn’t trust his two deputy Chief Ministers. A K Sharma hails from Azamgarh and can play some role. No one is sure if Nitin Gadkari had a role in Sharma’s going to UP because he worked under him in the MSME as Secretary. No final word has come out about the future role of MLC AK Sharma. Will he be another KK in Lucknow?

Nadda’s rising clout

BJP president J P Nadda is back in action and batting on the front foot in West Bengal polls. He played a key role in the selection of seven Union Ministers who were made incharge of seven regions for Assembly polls. Obviously, Nadda's graph has risen after big Bihar won. Only recently, a couple of Chief Ministers of BJP ruled states wanted to call on the PM. But Modi politely conveyed to them to first apprise “Nadda ji” about the issues. Another major change jolted the party when three posts of joint general secretaries (Organisation) were discarded. Is RSS allowing a free hand to Nadda and General secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh? One will have to watch.

Why Govt doesn't communicate

Be it farm laws or any other issue, the Modi government’s bane is it to rush into decisions and lacking in communication. The classic example is of giving Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxine without phase-III trial data. It was alleged that the government had rushed into giving preferred treatment violating rules and risking lives of people. But no one, not even the IMCR, Drug Controller General of India or even the Health ministry said that the rules for EMA were amended way back in March 2019, a year before the Covid break out. The policy was changed by regulators to give EUA for vaccines without waiting for phase-III trial results. No favours were shown to Covaxine per se. When controversy engulfed the scientific community, the rules were dug out from the grave.