If Re-elected, Modi Could See Departure of Many Civil Servants

The officials mentioned two reasons: their inability to change government policy and their demanding work schedule.

2 min read
Modi’s PMO could see a series of major changes at the top of the civil services if he wins a second term.

The Indian government may be looking at a need to make a series of major changes at the top of India's civil services if Narendra Modi returns for a second term as prime minister, reported Reuters, quoting sources in the administration.

According to the report, at least eight senior bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have requested transfers to other departments or want to take premature retirement. The government officials asked to remain anonymous.

The three officials who spoke to Reuters said that one of their reasons for wanting to move were two fold: their inability to change the government policy, largely controlled by the PM and his posse of ministers and advisors. The other is their demanding work schedule.

“The sense of partnership is missing, Modi and his ministers do not have an organic relationship with the bureaucrats,” the civil servant in the Home Ministry told Reuters.

Sanjay Mayukh, a BJP spokesperson declined to comment on the grounds that governance issues were managed directly by ministers.

A PMO official also did not return phone calls from Reuters seeking a comment.

Senior bureaucrats said that various factors, among them Modi’s top-down approach and his orders to work on public holidays had widened the gap between the civil servants and Modi.

In February, Amit Shah had said that bureaucrats suffer from what he called "communist romanticism", two ministers who were in a closed-door meeting with him told Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

Disconnect With Party, Long Working Hours

Many of these top officials face a disconnect with Modi's style of leadership and the ruling party. Many of them have received an education at India's elite universities or overseas and cannot come to terms with BJP's right-wing Hindu nationalism and Modi's "rough-hewn approach to governance", Reuters said.

They particularly resent the RSS’s interference in the government, citing the example of the resignation of the former RBI governor and his replacement with an official considered more loyal to Modi.

RSS also criticises Modi for not having more professionally trained expects to implement his policies, such as demonetisation. A senior finance ministry official told Reuters that the latter and GST were examples of political decisions that were not discussed enough with officials before being implemented. However, civil servants are resisting a plan to bring in some professionals from the private sector into the civil service.

Many are concerned about India being ruled by a Hindu nationalist party while several others seem concerned about the 12 to 13-hour work days, even on weekends.

(With inputs from Reuters.)

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