Congress today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of concentrating power in his hands and said the government's decision asking Secretaries to report to the PMO is "dilution of and disrespect to" the cabinet system.
Seeking to drive a wedge in ruling BJP, party spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters that even the Home Minister of the country cannot appoint his private secretary as government has issued orders that officials who have worked in that post in the previous regime cannot find a place in the new government. "The decision is arbitrary, discriminatory and disrespectful to the Constitution of India", Sharma said adding "we cannot allow coopted and politicised bureaucracy and civil servants".
A government circular had said "it has been decided by the competent authority that any officer/official/private person who has worked earlier in the staff of a minister in any capacity for any duration may not be appointed as personal staff of ministers in the present government". Alleging that for the first time in India, power is being centralised in the PMO, he said now the PM will appoint the Secretaries of Ministers.
"A circular was issued that Secretaries to the government will report to the PMO. The question now arises as to what will cabinet ministers do, who under the parliamentary form of government are responisble for the work done in ministries. "Are we going to revisit the issue of cabinet minister's responsibility in a parliamentary form of government? It is a dilution of and disrespect to the cabinet form of government", he alleged.
The PMO has reportedly told bureaucrats that they could interact directly with the Prime Minister through the PM's website for suggesting "changes in the sphere of governance and suggestions for reforms."