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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Modi likely to cut the Cabinet to half of its present size: Arun Shourie

New Delhi: Journalist-politician Arun Shourie, who is likely to get an important role in the Narendra Modi government, has said that as of now no one knows who will get which portfolio except the Prime Minister-designate.
He also downplayed speculations that he met BJP chief Rajnath Singh in Delhi to discuss the role he might be given in the NDA government.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, Shourie revealed that Modi will most likely downsize the government and the Cabinet could be cut to half its present size.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you joining the Narendra Modi government?
Arun Shourie: I frankly don't know and I can assure you as of now no one knows except Modi.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Can I tell you why these speculations has grown. (A) You have gone and met Rajnath Singh and (B) you are back in Delhi and you are spending so much time in Delhi that people are wondering is Arun Shourie back in the corridors of power and is he becoming a minister?
Arun Shourie: Let me take these two points. I was called by Shudhansu Trivedi, a good friend of mine and associate of Rajnath Singh, and he asked me to come and meet Rajnath Singh. I came and met him over a general chit chat.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Nothing to do with government formations?
Arun Shourie: Nothing at all.
Rajdeep Sardesai: The other reason is you are the adviser to Narendra Modi, he has high regards for you.
Arun Shourie: Well that you will know, I will not know.
Rajdeep Sardesai: If Narendra Modi offers you finance ministry, you will not take?
Arun Shourie: I will not answer that question. How can you just build castle in and then decline to owe it?
Rajdeep Sardesai: My final point is that we should not make headline that the battle of finance battle is between two Aruns, Arun Jaitely and Arun Shourie.
Arun Shourie: Yes, absolutely.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What I have seen is a mantra that you have been voicing and interestingly Mr Modi voices - less government and more governance. What does that really mean? As we are reaching to the cabinet formation, you were part of Vajpayee's government of about 80 ministers, ditto with Manmohan Singh. Do we need a leaner smaller downsized government with more focused areas?
Arun Shourie: I think Mr Modi is really keen on that, the first idea is to just collapse ministries. Have higher tier of a ministry for say energy ministry, all the energy, coal, mining other than these atomic energy you can take all the power type of electricity related, one conventional ministry, leave them under Ministers of State and one Cabinet Minister rather then seven. This is one example, similarly in transport.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you will bring road and railways and all transport ministries under one umbrella?
Arun Shourie: Railway is too big, but we can bring other transports under one umbrella to an extent to which a coordination is required. Sometime there is not that much is required in road and air but in road and railways yes. But the most creative idea in downsizing the cabinet actually came from TV18's Raghav Bahl, he gave a good idea. Just as in banking sector as Naik committee has observed that all bank should be put under a holding company. Raghav Bahl's good idea is to take all the PSU out of all ministries and put them under a holding company. Even under the existing system you will have a situation where you will have an asset of three to four billion dollar to start with, as currently valued. His estimate is that anything you want to raise from 500 billion dollar to trillion dollar in next five years, you can raise and use it for infrastructure and at the same time downsize the government.

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