Row Over PM Modi's Aide: Bill to Change TRAI Act Divides Opposition

The ruling BJP is bracing for fireworks in Parliament over a bill to legitimize the appointment of former telecom regulator Nripendra Misra as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary.

The government plans to get the bill passed today in the Lok Sabha, where it enjoys a majority. In the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition Congress is the single largest party, the BJP is banking on a divided opposition. 

The bill will replace its ordinance, or executive order, amending the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) Act, which barred Mr Misra from taking any government post.

Congress ally Mayawati today said her BSP would support the government's bill. "The PM has the right to choose his secretary. We should not oppose the appointment if he is a good official." 

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), another Congress ally, said it was not in favour of "opposing for the sake of opposing." The NCP and the Left are reportedly against a confrontation with the government on Mr Misra's appointment.

Passing the ordinance to allow Mr Misra to join the PM's team was among the first acts of the new government after it took charge in May. 

The ordinance has to be ratified by both houses of Parliament in this session, as it will lapse after six months.

"The PM has the right to select his principal secretary. But why is that one person so important? How can the law be changed for one person?" said Congress leader Rashid Alvi.  

Sources say the Congress and Trinamool may press for a vote on the bill.

The Law Minister says the government is within its rights to push for the proposed change. "We are pushing this bill based upon clear merits. We are quite confident that we will pass it in both the houses," Mr Prasad said on Friday.

The Prime Minister reportedly hand-picked the 1967-batch IAS officer, who has held several important positions in the government. Mr Misra was secretary in the ministries of telecom and commerce. 

The 69-year-old was also Principal Secretary to Kalyan Singh when he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in the early 1990s.

Latest News