Off day doesn’t figure in Modi’s lexicon

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who once called himself the “Pradhan Sewak”, is walking the talk, and how. He has not taken a single day off after taking charge on May 26, 2014, his office replied to a query posted through Right to Information (RTI). While the specific question was how many sick and casual leave were availed by prime ministers in the past 10 years, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has replied only for Modi. On whether Modi follows any official working hours, the reply was “he’s on duty all the time”.

The PM has had an engaging international calendar during the past 18 months, with 18 foreign trips and spending 89 days away from the country, government data shows. A Russia trip is coming up next week. His domestic tours have been much shorter, mostly confined to a day each. From May 26, 2014, to October 26, 2015, Modi went on 10 trips, spanning 11 days, within India. That makes it a total of 100 days on the move within one and a half years.

In another RTI query reply, the PMO said Modi himself manages his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. But when it comes to the PM’s official social media accounts, his office says those are managed by the PMO. To questions on the identity of officials managing the PM’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts, their salaries and their level of engagement with Modi, the reply was that no particular officer maintains them and that his accounts are updated as per information from various officials.

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The PMO did not give any reply to a question on who helps the PM send tweets in foreign languages such as Japanese, Hebrew, Mandarin, Russian and Korean. It, however, put on record that information and broadcasting ministry (Doordarshan) facilitates teleprompting assistance to the PMO.

Also, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Modi and his officers use internet at speeds of 34 mbps. This revelation by the PMO justifies the quick tweets they send. And if you thought Modi had a mobile phone as part of the PMO gizmo, you are wrong. According to his office, the PM never got any mobile phone from the PMO. This answer was to a question on whether the PM’s phone number could be accessed and what was it. When asked about the internet charges incurred by the PM, his office pointed out it was part of the phone bill and no separate record was kept.

On other queries related to expenses, this time on liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, vegetable and spices, the PMO said “kitchen expenses of the PM are personal in nature and not incurred on government account”.

On matters such as the PM’s daily schedule or the number of visitors he receives, his office did not divulge any information. Even his percentage in graduation was not revealed as “the information sought does not form part of records”, the PMO said. The RTI reply stated that the PM’s highest qualification was masters in political science. In another reply, the PMO said Modi has not attended any Roza-Iftaar party after becoming the Prime Minister.

PMO has also replied to questions bordering on bizarre, including whether there was a proposal to change the official designation of the Prime Minister of India to Prime Servant of India. “There is no proposal to change the official designation of the Prime Minister of India,” it said. Then there were questions on whether Modi has read the Constitution of India, who gives him advice if he goes against the Constitution of India, and whether there should be a handbook for the PM. The PMO dismissed these as “hypothetical questions”.

There were questions linked to the principal secretary to the PM, Nripendra Misra, as well. Has he taken his subordinates on a picnic ever and how much money was spent on it and which catering company supplied food was asked. “There has been no picnic or excursion organised by the PMO or the principal secretary to the PM,” the PMO replied.

And yes, there’s no vigilance case against anybody in the PMO, which has a sanctioned strength of 400, while it had 309 working in the office as of August 2015. As for security to officers in the PMO, the privilege comes from the posts held and not on the basis of service, the replies revealed

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