At the height of the Corona crisis, Ahmedabad has virtually become a ‘Union Territory’ as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is said to be taking a keen interest in efforts to bring the situation under control in the city.
Senior IAS officer Rajiv Kumar Gupta has been tasked to bring the situation in Ahmedabad under control. He has been given free hand to take independent decisions, even if they are difficult ones, to bring the situation under control at the earliest. Sources in the government say Gupta is considered very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also giving daily direct reports to the PMO, the sources claimed.
Those in the know said Modi was angry at the way in which the AMC commissioner was dealing with the spread of the disease, even as the district reported a rise in death due to Covid19. In fact, the PMO was alarmed by the vague claims of Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra that Ahmedabad cases would soon cross the one lakh mark.
After this, the PMO called the state government and directed that efficient officers be put in charge to tackle the Ahmedabad situation. When asked for suggestions, Gupta’s name featured prominently as he has been successfully implementing projects close to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heart like the Statue of Unity. So along with Mukesh Kumar as the in-charge Municipal Commissioner, Gupta was appointed to oversee the entire situation and take effective steps.
Immediately after taking over, Gupta initiated efforts to control the situation like concentrating on stopping super-spreaders and complete close down of grocery and vegetable shops in the city. The steps had the direct approval of PMO, the sources claimed. Those close to Gupta claim that along with the state government, Gupta reports directly to the Centre on a day-to-day basis. Also, senior officials of PMO are helping him take effective steps as the PMO is extremely concerned about the situation and taking special care that the city, which was home of the Prime Minister and Home Minister until they moved to Delhi, returns to normalcy immediately.
(The author is a senior journalist with over two decades of experience covering Gandhinagar, bureaucracy and politics in Gujarat.)