Home By the Way New power centres in PMO
By the Way

New power centres in PMO

Who is the most powerful officer in the Prime Minister’s Office after PK Mishra and PK Sinha? The question is difficult to answer as every officer in the PMO is equally important and influential. Still observing the work distribution, AK Sharma and Tarun Bajaj, both 1988-batch IAS officers from Gujarat and Haryana cadre, respectively, would tie for the distinction. Both have been allotted the work of Secretary to the Prime Minister though they will remain as Additional Secretaries. AK Sharma was in the Gujarat Chief Minister’s office since 2001 (when Narendra Modi was CM). Sharma handled industry and corporate issues besides Modi’s meetings with foreign dignitaries. He played a key role in organising the Vibrant Gujarat summits. Sharma also helped relocate the Tata Nano plant to Sanand from West Bengal’s Singur. Before coming to PMO, he was Additional Principal Secretary to the Gujarat CM. Sharma was among the first to be appointed in the Modi PMO, along with Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra. In fact, he is believed to be one of the very few officers from the Gujarat CM’s office who were in Delhi when Modi went to the President to stake claim to form the government. Sharma is also credited with changing the US’ attitude towards Modi. It is believed that the Sharma played a key role in bringing Nancy Powell, then the US ambassador to India, to Gandhinagar, for a meeting with Modi before the 2014 general elections were announced. The other officer is soft-spoken Tarun Bajaj. Bajaj has an excellent academic record and is M.Sc from London School of Economics and MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He has rich experience as a serving officer in the power, finance and tourism sectors. He has served as Joint Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs, looking after the Insurance Sector. His importance in PMO can be gauged from the fact that Bajaj has charge of several key ministries (including the ones focused on science and technology) plus Parliament, Right to Information (RTI), Jammu & Kashmir, the North-eastern states and Haryana. In addition, he has oversight of finance, trade, corporate affairs, NITI Aayog and statistics.

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