The air in the corridors of powers has gotten thicker. Top bureaucrats in various ministries were dusting out the BJP manifesto and plans for its implementation on Tuesday ahead of Narendra Modi taking over as the country's new Prime Minister next week.
The rush of activity came a day after the country's topmost bureaucrat, cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, and home secretary Anil Goswami, called on the PM designate. A flurry of activity gripped government offices as senior bureaucrats held meetings to ready presentations for the new government.
"Our brief is to keep presentations ready, suggest immediate and long-term plans as well as explain bottlenecks due to which projects have been delayed," said a top official on condition of anonymity while admitting that there was an air of nervousness in the bureaucracy ahead of Modi taking over.
Those who have worked with Modi in Gujarat say that the new PM is a tough task master, who hardly forgives slip-ups. Sources said Modi may not engineer a major reshuffle in the bureaucracy, but will keep each one under a lens.
"They have been asked to prepare an agenda for 100 days and set targets, which will be reviewed after every 10 days. Those officials unable to deliver will be weeded out, but not before being given a chance to deliver," a senior official, who has worked in Gujarat, said. The officer confided that though Modi puts trust in bureaucrats, he inculcates fear and impatience as well. "He knows how to get work done. He demands work. He ensures that his decisions are fully implemented."
Sources further reveal that during his meeting with Seth, Modi conveyed that in view of the massive mandate, people have great expectations. Modi told the cabinet secretary and the home secretary to suggest a number of ministries and departments that can be merged to have a small number of ministries. Modi has himself sugested that related ministries and deparments be merged, such as fertilisers, food and public distribution be clubbed into a single agriculture ministry; transport, shipping and railways be made into one, etc.
Every ministry will have to prepare a blueprint and get its act together as soon as possible. Those who have worked with Modi also say he sets targets for bureaucrats and evolves systems to monitor their work.
He would give minimum two-to-three years to every officer, allowing him time to show results.
Modi has made it clear that he wants to deliver in the shortest possible time, and wants a good team in the council of ministers as well as in bureaucracy. Sources say the PM-designate does not want to take for granted the massive support the BJP received in the election. A source close to Modi said an identical message has been conveyed to the RSS as well that the new PM has come with high expectations requiring the new government to perform and the people, particularly the youth, may turn against the government if he is not able to deliver within six months.