Flashback 2014: Modi the driving force of the new govt

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New Delhi, Dec 28: With an absolute majority for BJP and the image of a strong leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his PMO emerged the driving force of the new government which critics have dubbed as centralisation of power.

But for a "rank outsider" to Delhi's charmed power circles, Modi made a quick transformation from being a Chief Minister to a Prime Minister who has apparently taken to foreign policy like fish to water.

Modi

He engaged vigorously with world leaders including Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping and made a surprise invitation to SAARC leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.

But it is another story that by the year end, Indo-Pak relations remained in deep freeze after India called off foreign secretary-level talks over Pakistan High Commissioner engaging with Hurriyat leaders.

The seven months of the new government have presented a picture that everything about it is "PMO-centric" or "PMO- driven", a marked difference from the one headed by Modi's predecessor Manmohan Singh who was considered by many as "weak".

That the PMO would call the shots in the new government was evident at the very beginning when Modi called a meeting of all top secretaries of the central government a week after taking over on May 26 and told them that they should take decisions "without fear" and he would back them.

While allocating portfolios too, Modi made a special mention that "All important policy issues" will be his responsibility, which was read as PMO being omnipotent.

This provided ammunition to the Opposition, which kept taking digs that the Prime Minister is the only one who calls shots in the new government and the rest do not matter.

Unmindful of this, Modi drove the agenda as the government launched a number of initiatives. These include the Swachh Bharat campaign, Jandhan scheme, Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana for adoption of villages by MPs and 'Make-in-India' campaign.

The Opposition described the government's action as an attempt to divert attention from the significance of birthday of Mahatma Gandhi or the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi.

The Congress party called many of these schemes as "copy cat" programmes of the UPA government. Some other initiatives included steps to simplify rules by doing away with 'archaic' laws and bringing in self- certification of documents instead of attestation.

With the Prime Minister laying thrust on attracting maximum foreign investment, steps were taken to liberalise the FDI policy, including in critical sectors like defence and insurance.

PTI

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