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Ex-official: Why not offer Vaishnaw to run loss making BSNL, Air India to prove his worth?

By Rajiv Shah
A senior chartered accountant, whom I have known intimately (I am not naming him, as I don’t have his permission), has forwarded me an Indian Express (IE) story (July 18), “Ashwini Vaishnaw: The man in the chair”, which, he says, “contradicts” the blog (July 17), "Will Vaishnaw, close to Modi since Vajpayee days, ever be turnaround man for Railways?" I had written a day earlier and forwarded it to many of my friends.
Written after taking extensive talks the reporters Liz Mathew and Aishwarya Mohanty appear to have had with BJP insiders and government officials (of course, all anonymous), I read through the IE story and sought a reaction from a former government official, who had also seen my blog and was happy about whatever I had written, doubting Vaishnaw would be a big success.
The ex-government official, whom I forwarded the story, told me, while IE piece was surely presented a “positive side of Vaishnaw”, and that the new Railways-cut-IT minister is indeed a “very bright person looking at his profile”, this is not enough to give him full marks. “Working for long hours gives no credit to him. Even Modi does it. The point is, which loss making public sector enterprise has he turned around during, if at all?”, came the query.
According this former official, “We would have seen Vaishnaw’s capabilities had he been asked the task of revamping two loss making public enterprises of the Government of India: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which has an excellent communications network infrastructure, but due to poor management, it is in the red, or Air India, which also faces a similar predicament.”
According to this ex-official, even Lalu Prasad Yadav as India’s railway minister under UPA was projected as a great success for “revamping” Indian Railways in a very big way. “The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad called him for a presentation of how he managed what he did. He was projected as a successful rustic politician in an elite institute.”
Significantly, it was suggested, the IE story is quiet on two major points: Vaishnaw’s Modi connections dating back to the AB Vajpayee days – he is said to have been a “key informer” to the then Gujarat chief minister about goings on around the late Prime Minister. Also, it does not give much credit to Vaishnaw for bringing Biju Janata Dal and BJP together to get him elected as Rajya Sabha member: the credit, it suggests, goes to Amit Shah, the de facto No 2.
As for the IE story’s claim that Vaishnaw did great job as district collector in fighting cyclone in Odisha, the official claimed: “We have also done good job here in Gujarat fighting floods, cyclones and other disasters… Remember SR Rao, who as Surat Municipal Commissioner fought the devastating plague? Does anyone remembers him now?”

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Shamsul Islam said…
Showing mirror to emperors without clothes!

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