All senior bureaucrat appointments decided directly by PM Modi

The transfers and postings of senior officers are being directly decided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with home minister Rajnath Singh only signing the files once the PM has taken a decision, according to reports.

Senior officers like special secretary, internal security in the ministry of home affairs, secretary, AIDS control in the health ministry, and the chairman of Air India have recently been appointed by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (ACC), which clears the appointments at the level of joint secretary and above.

Narendra Modi had reconstituted the ACC after coming to power. Earlier, it included the home minister, the prime minister and the minister concerned, but now it only comprises the home minister and the prime minister.

So far, the process of ACC involved the establishment officer generating a file with probable names for transfer and posting and then forwarding it to the cabinet secretary who sought the home minister's view before finally sending it to the PM for approval.

Now, the cabinet secretary directly sends the file to the PM and the Home Minister's signature is a mere formality since the decision is taken by the PM.

When questioned about his curtailed power in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Rajnath Singh clarified saying that some files went without his signature as he was busy with other work.

The Opposition reacted strongly to the development, with Congress leader Manish Tewari calling it a gross over-centralisation of power and of being symbolic of a growing personality cult.

"It is unprecedented that the home minister is cut out of the Appointments Committee of the cabinet.

''Is this indicative of a rupture in the relationship between the two or is it indicative of the Prime Minister wanting to concentrate all powers in his own secretariat?" said Tewari.