Prime Edition

Modi looks beyond IAS to staff PMO
ABHINANDAN MISHRA  New Delhi | 18th Oct 2014

he office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which, according to government officials, is the leanest Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in recent times, also has several non-IAS bureaucrats playing major roles. Officials say that the PMO has been sanctioned around 520 posts. PM Modi's office, however, is presently operating with 385 officials, which is fewer than the number of officials employed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his PMO.

According to officials, unlike in the past, where the functioning of the PMO was handled by the IAS, this time things are different. Four people, Hiren Joshi, Hemang Jani, Pratik Doshi and Sanjay R. Bhavasar have emerged as an integral part of Modi's PMO. They all have a Gujarat connection and none of them belong to the All India Administrative Services.

The 44-year-old Joshi, who is known as the man who manages Modi's social footprints, including his blog, website and Twitter account is an electronics engineer from Pune, who did his PhD from the Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Gwalior.

"He was an assistant professor at a college in Bhilwara (Rajasthan). After working there for 18 years, he came in touch with Modi after which he became a member of his team in 2008. Joshi played a big role in increasing and establishing Modi's online presence, much before Indian leaders could understand the immense potential of the internet," recalled an official, who worked with Joshi in Gujarat.

It was Joshi who executed Modi's plan to send out tweets in Japanese when the PM was about to embark on a trip to Japan. Sources said that Joshi is one of the last men whom Modi meets before going to bed. It is at this time that Joshi hands over a report to the PM on online activities.

Another key associate, who has been making the right moves in the PMO is the 35-year-old Hemang Jani, an alumnus of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS, Singapore, who earlier worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Jani, who is from Ahmedabad, has been associated with Modi for the last six years and was also involved in Modi's unsuccessful web campaign for the "Mashable Awards 2011" for "Must-Follow Politician on Social Media".

Pratik Doshi, a Singapore Management School graduate, joined the Gujarat Chief Minister's Office as an intern, when the PM was still the CM. "The internship was for young people who wanted to learn the workings of the government. It was during the internship that he was appointed as a research assistant in the CMO," an official said. He has since then been a vital part of Modi's team.

As for Sanjay Bhavsar, he is regarded as Modi's "Man Friday". He too was an integral part of the CMO. When Modi moved to Delhi, Bhavsar was also ordered to relocate.

"He is a man who is like Modi's shadow. He handles virtually everything, including his public meetings, media interaction and public relations. He knows who the PM is fond of and who he likes to avoid, the journalists he likes and the ones he doesn't," said an Ahmedabad based journalist.

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