New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy Monday questioned the appointment of Tarun Bajaj as the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) — which is the latest in his criticism of top finance ministry officers.
The DEA functions under the finance ministry.
Bajaj, an additional secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), was appointed as the DEA secretary Sunday by the appointments committee of the Union cabinet. He will assume the new role from 1 May.
A 1988-batch Haryana cadre officer, Bajaj joins the list of top officers of the finance ministry such as Hasmukh Adhia and Shaktikanta Das (now the RBI governor), who have been at the receiving end of Swamy’s diatribe.
Seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, Swamy in a tweet alleged that Bajaj was a ‘chela’ (follower) of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi.
He further alleged that as the textile secretary in 2017, Bajaj had given a contract to NDTV, following which the “PM intervened and cancelled it”.
However, official records maintained by the Department of Personnel and Training showed that Bajaj was in the PMO from 2015, first as joint secretary and then as additional secretary. There is no mention of him being a secretary in the textile ministry in 2017.
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In his tweet, Swamy also questioned if civil servants are taking advantage of the PM’s “total engrossment” with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Swamy’s attacks on Jaitley, Sitharaman, RBI governor
In the past few years, Swamy has often criticised those associated with the finance ministry, including former finance minister Arun Jaitley, current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia and RBI Governor Das, who had earlier served as the secretary in the DEA.
Swamy was one of the biggest critics of Jaitley and accused him of mishandling the economy. He was also critical of the initial setting of the GSTN — the technological backbone of the GST — as a private company.
In 2018, Swamy had accused Adhia of helping fugitive-jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to flee the country, among several other allegations. Adhia is a Gujarat-cadre officer, who is said to be close to Modi.
In 2016, Swamy had accused RBI Governor Das, who was then the DEA secretary, of being part of a controversial land deal in Chennai.
Swamy also did not spare Sitharaman. Within months of her taking over as the finance minister, Swamy said she does not understand economics.
He was also critical of a decision taken last year to “compulsorily retire” income tax department officer Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, who had spearheaded the investigation against NDTV and former finance minister P. Chidambaram.
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