'Nehru promoted PM-led system of administration'

Nehru had 'personality-driven working style' and centralised power in the hands of bureaucrats.


Claiming that Patel wanted the PM role to be of a coordinator, not a supervisor, which often led to disagreements with Nehru.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had 'personality-driven working styles' and centralised power in the hands of a few bureaucrats, an Atal Bihari Vajpayee Fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library has claimed.

Speaking about his research, 'the Prime Ministers' Office during the Congress years', Himanshu Prasad Roy claimed in New Delhi on Friday that Nehru 'promoted a PM-led system of administration','interfered in ministrie', and was 'opposed' by Sardar Patel and BR Ambedkar, who wanted the Cabinet to decide on matters of governance "After 1952, he became the absolute dominant power in the Cabinet, relegating the Cabinet to the background. Even Ambedkar has written about it, that the Cabinet was reduced to recording decisions arrived at committees," Roy alleged.

Claiming that Patel wanted the PM role to be of a coordinator, not a supervisor, which often led to disagreements with Nehru, Roy said, there were many others who felt the PM was the first among equals with no overriding powers who can suggest ideas, but the implementation ought to be the ministry's. Roy also said writings of people who worked closely with Nehru, such as NK Seshan and MO Mathai had information that contradicted, so it was difficult to know how the PM Secretariat was run during Nehru's time. The office that was thought to be necessary to provide assistance to the PM was ad-hoc and personal during Nehru's time, formalised when the second PM Lal Bahadur Shastri took over, and was 'centralised and strengthened' as an institution during Indira Gandhi's time, he said.

When asked to comment, Congress leader and former NMML society member Jairam Ramesh questioned the credibility of scholars given the NMML platform. In the last five years, it is scholarship that has taken the biggest hit at the NMML more than anything else. It is not the political ideology, but the scholarship credentials that should matter before a person is given the NMML platform.

M K Rasgotra, former Indian Foreign Secretary who was present at the lecture, said the strength of the PM's office or house is dependent on the quality of the leader or leadership. "We were fortunate to have leaders such as Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai and the present PM. If the leader is strong, the PMO is strong. If the leader is weak, which also we have seen, the PMO will not be able to weigh in on the members of the cabinet, even if the PM has the brightest secretary."
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