Narendra Modi has to face a challenge in Parliament if he wants to get his favourite man in his office. Opposition protested loudly as the government tabled a bill to clear legal hurdles in the appointment of former telecom regulator Nripendra Misra as Modi’s principal secretary. The bill replaces a controversial ordinance passed by the government to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority or TRAI Act, which barred Misra, a former chairman of the panel, from taking any government post. I think there should not be any problem if PM believes in him and wanted Misra to assist him. BJP accused Congress for using ordinance route. However, when BJP was in opposition, they also doing the same type of gimmicks.
The choice of an official to head the PMO was the prerogative of the PM. Mr Misra is a visionary, as displayed in his role as TRAI chief. When many in the government felt auctioning the 2G licences the best way of maximizing revenue, Misra gave his well-reasoned recommendation of August 2007, to issue the new 2G licences at the entry fee discovered in 2001, but at the same time to auction the 3G licence. This was to ensure a level playing field to the new entrants, as otherwise they would not be able to compete with the existing six 2G operators in each circle, who got the licences at a low entry fee earlier. It was this very recommendation, which was implemented, brought down the tariff to 50 paise per call and led to an explosive growth in the subscriber base from 234 million in December 2007 to 934 m in June 2012. One can therefore admire the PM’s choice of Misra as a visionary to head PMO.
This is the first irregularity that Modi government has started its tenure with. By taking the route of an ordinance, Modi government has given a new lease to a retired central government official because he is congenial to the government. There are many questions on this appointment which cannot be ignored such as, why has a retired person to be made the Principle Secretary? Is there no one else more or equally competent than Misra? There are so many capable and senior officials who too are experienced and could do very well. However, what PM is thinking we can’t say. It’s the PM’s opinion which counts. If there is any problem with his appointment or the lacuna correction which the BJP claims to have corrected via Ordinance it can always be taken up in Parliament and the Ordinance rejected thereby canceling the appointment. The government has full right to bring any law in the telecom authority.
The ordinance, passed two days after the government took charge, has to be ratified by both houses of Parliament in this session, as it will lapse after six months. The government says TRAI is the only authority which bars its chairpersons from taking up any official assignment. The ruling BJP enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha but numbers are a worry in the Rajya Sabha, where it is in a minority. The Congress has said it will strongly oppose the ordinance. They say they do not oppose Mr. Misra but the principle. An ordinance was issued just to appoint one person. Mr. Misra had already taken charge as Principal Secretary before Mr. Modi was sworn in on May 26. The Prime Minister reportedly hand-picked the 1967-batch IAS officer, who has held several important positions in the government. He was secretary in the ministries of telecom and commerce.
The 69-year-old was also Principal Secretary to Kalyan Singh when he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in the early 1990s. Nripendra Misra is an Indian civil servant who is serving as the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India. He was the Former Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India He served as Special Secretary, Finance, Government of Uttar Pradesh (1978-80) and as Director (World Bank-IMF Division) in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance (1981-84) and further as Joint Secretary, Fund Bank Division (1984-85) in the same Department. From August, 1985 to July, 1988, he served as Minister (Economic) in the Indian Embassy, Washington D.C. and was responsible for all aspects of trade and economic relations between India and USA including monitoring of Multilateral (World Bank, IFC & IMF) and bilateral aided programmes, and also for promotion of investment opportunities in India from US Private Sector. He was Secretary in the Department of Institutional Finance, Taxation and Excise, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh (1988-89) and from January, 1990 to October, 1992 served as Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. During October, 1992 to January, 1994, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Greater NOIDA industrial Development Authority and was responsible for integrated development of the new industrial town. During January, 1994 to July, 1995, he served as Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh and further as Principal Secretary, Home-II, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh during 1995-96. From November, 1996 to January, 2002, he served in the Ministry of Commerce. From January, 2002 to January, 2004, he served as Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Fertilizers.
Misra is one of the most capable IAS officer and a deserving candidate to be a Principle Secretary to the Prime Minister.