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By the Way

Misra to Modi

When Nripendra Misra, 74, quit the PMO, just four months after he was elevated to Cabinet rank with two other civil servants in May this year, it came as a shock. Why would the Principal Secretary do so, so soon? The clouds of confusion were cleared a bit by the Prime Minister through a tweet. “Nripendra Misra is among the most outstanding of officers, who has a great grasp of public policy and administration. When I was new to Delhi in 2014, he taught me a lot and his guidance remains extremely valuable,” the tweet said. Therein lies a clue to the mystery. What did Mishra teach Narendra Modi? What was it that an experienced politician, who was a state Chief Minister for more than two full terms, had to learn from a civil servant with more than five decades in civil service? Insiders reveal that one of the most difficult tasks that PM Modi faced in 2014 was to understand the dynamics and nuances of the Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy, which was divided along caste divisions. The state had strong, staunch, and embedded lobbies such as Brahmin, Kayastha, Thakur, Dalit, and Vaishya. Mishra a 1967 batch IAS officer, had served for a long time in his parent cadre, and was the state’s Principal Secretary. He knew the ins and outs of the UP bureaucracy like the back of his hand. As the PM’s Principal Secretary, he became the window through which Modi got an insight into the workings of the UP civil services. However, working in Modi’s PMO, and that too at the age of 74, is taxing. Misra’s health did not permit such long hours, and hard work. So, he withdrew from the humdrum of the power circle. Good luck to Misra ji.

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