Leaking At The Top
The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top, a wise man said. And for a Modi sarkar obsessed with national security and extremely careful about regulating the flow of information, a series of leaks about breach of security laws (the irony!) is deeply embarrassing. Recently, classified documents about India’s nuclear submarine were aired in the media, leading National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to fire off several memos across the higher echelons expressing concern over the leaks and warning of stern action against those found responsible. Doval’s missives have set alarm bells ringing. Recently the Cabinet Secretariat directed Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami to ensure compliance of the NSA’s instructions and ensure that the information that can undermine the national security remains under wraps. Of course, Governments often themselves find it convenient to leak information it wants to put out in a selective manner. But obviously those are not the kind that Doval has in mind.
Change of Government has meant little to babus in Haryana, who survived the previous Bhupinder Singh Hooda regime. His term will long be known for his tussle with “dissident” officials like Ashok Khemka and Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who had tried to toe an independent line. But it now appears that the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP Government too is following the path of his predecessor. Babu circles are buzzing over the abrupt transfer of senior IAS officer and Gurgaon’s Divisional Commissioner Pradeep Kasni barely a month after he was appointed to the post. Sources say that babus believe that Kasni was moved out because he prepared a report that talked about a nexus between revenue officials and some powerful land-grabbers. Though the official line is that Kasni’s transfer was ordered for “administrative reasons’, he has not been given a new assignment and babus fear that he could well become another Khemka, if he continues to act “independently”.
With the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) holding the reins of most of what moves in Modi sarkar, it’s not just Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj who may be a bit at sea. The diplomatic corps too is beginning to feel left out in talks with foreign delegations. Apparently, the IFS officers feel strongly enough to have reportedly raised the matter with Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh. Apparently, the MEA representatives are miffed at being kept out of a meeting with a US delegation during the recent climate talks in Lima, Peru. But there have been other instances too. Though the media has often meditated on the role (or the lack of it) of Sushma Swaraj in Modi’s foreign policy, the predicament of the IFS officers has not come out. Now with US President Barack Obama visiting New Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations, it’s obvious that the MEA officials are keen to have a slice of the action. The buzz is that India’s ambassador to the US Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is on the verge of retirement, may be recalled to play foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, further beefing up the already mighty PMO.