With opinion polls predicting a change of government at the Centre, top bureaucrats of the country are working overtime to draft an agenda for the next government’s first 100 days.
With ministers busy with their poll campaigns, bureaucrats are keenly waiting for the BJP’s poll manifesto to keep ready a plan of action for the new government.
In a clear anticipation of change of political heads, cabinet secretary Ajit Seth has asked all secretaries to prepare a status note on their departmental activities so that the incoming government is completely briefed at the time of taking charge.
“This is to ensure, the next government instead of going on a honeymoon is straightaway sent to work without losing any time,” a senior government official said, defending the sending of such a memo, when a government is already in place. He termed it an usual practice.
But his own colleagues in the government say the communication is aimed to keep bureaucrats ready to face the next government. They don’t want to be caught off guard like what happened in 2004.
Recalling that when PM Manmohan Singh took charge at South Block in May 2004, his predecessor AB Vajpayee had to leave a handwritten note for him, requesting him to continue the golden quadrilateral project — the construction of highways and inter-linking of rivers — besides continuing Next Step in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) with the US, started by non other than current BJP rebel Jaswant Singh.
To avoid such a situation, the bureaucracy is preparing a status report of every department, a document on pertinent issues of national and international importance, issues on which action has to be taken during the first three months and also during the first year in office. They have been asked to prepare reports on issues pending notes before the current cabinet or any cabinet committee and which requires immediate attention.
The letter tells secretaries to identify thrust areas of their departments and spell out the achievements vis-à-vis the envisaged outcomes, as also the challenges being faced in the implementation of the programme.
The cabinet secretary, the top-most civil servant in the country, acts as secretary to the council of ministers as well as assists in coordinating major administrative activities and policies of the government.