Strange as it may appear, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, though talking openly about his retirement plans, has been discreetly working behind the scenes for seeking an extension. In an unprecedented move, he initiated the file for his own extension and also got it personally approved by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. However, a source in the Cabinet Secretariat has confirmed to PGurus that the order in this regard will be issued only after a clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is obtained.
It is an open secret that Hasmukh Adhia treated the Ministers of State (MoS) in the Finance Ministry – present and past – with utter contempt that they were not even provided with details of the important meetings. An official presently working in the ministry, on condition of anonymity said, Adhia would not even attend the meetings pertaining to the sensitive NDPS Act related (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act ) matters chaired by the MoS which is not just an important policy decision but also a politically sensitive matter to the BJP in the poll-bound states like Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh. It is significant to mention that all these issues were handled by Joint Secretary Udai Singh Kumawat till his shunting out from the North Block.
The contempt does not end there. There is a pattern in Adhia’s behaviour that implies his arrogation of the “super finance minister” chair. In the run up to the implementation of GST, the PMO constituted a group of ministers (GoM) to look into and examine the matters concerning the GST roll out. Surprising as it may sound, Adhia not just skipped every meeting of the GoM but also discarded all the recommendations they made, which were slowly implemented after the disastrous implementation of GST, Hasmukh Adhia style. North block insiders, have confided to PGurus, that he treated former Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, not just with contempt but also held back all the important transfer / posting files and never discussed them with Goyal. Adhia had shown audacity to direct to many Joint Secretaries not to send files to Piyush Goyal!
It is important to note that Piyush Goyal is seen as a Minister close to the Prime Minister and by virtue of handling the party finances is known for his proximity to party president Amit Shah. Will the Prime Minister go ahead and grant an extension to Hasmukh Adhia when he has been ill-treating the political executive consistently?
“Arrogance is the surname of the Finance Secretary” said a senior member of a trade body. In an interaction with Hasmukh Adhia, while they requested for a change in the GST rate, according to this member who requested anonymity, Adhia casually remarked “why don’t you change your business model?”
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has filed around three dozen RTI applications in the Finance Ministry and also has requested the Finance Minister for sanction of prosecution against Hasmukh Adhia. Sources in North block have confirmed to PGurus that Adhia has directed all the concerned Joint Secretaries that no information must be parted without his unofficial clearance and in all cases, the information must be denied as far as possible. Swamy also filed petition to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for Sanction for Prosecution of Adhia for accepting Gold Biscuits from fugitive Nirav Modi as Diwali Gift in 2016.
In the first time in bureaucratic history, not only has Adhia moved his own file for extension, but has set another benchmark by writing letters to the PMO stating his willingness to work in the Election Commission, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and also the Comptroller and Auditor General! The grapevine is that the UPSC presently does not have a full time chairman and member Arvind Saxena, an officer from the 1978 batch of the Indian Postal Service is officiating as the Chairman and Hasmukh Adhia, following the footsteps of Deepak Gupta is making every possible attempt to be directly appointed as the Chairman of UPSC. If none of this works, last ditch efforts are also on to move Adhia to the PMO by this all-powerful cabal of four bureaucrats.
Finally, Adhia has been faking an incorrect excuse for premising his extension – the union budget. With the general elections round the corner, there will be no budget and it will be a vote on account in February 2019. Why is Hasmukh Adhia so desperate for an extension? What does he want to hide that he is directing his officers to deny the information sought under the RTI? Will the Prime Minister grant an extension to bureaucrat who has been consistently treating his cabinet colleagues with contempt and finally will the cabal of G4 succeed in convincing the Prime Minister about Adhia’s extension? We will get the answers to all these questions in the next ten days. Watch out for this space as PGurus will be reporting on these developing stories.
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