1. First, Misra’s reputation as a highly efficient and honest bureaucrat helped him piping his competitors many of whom worked directly under Modi whereas Misra had no Gujarat connection. Ten years ago, Misra was even considered to be a future cabinet secretary, but with the UPA coming to power, equations changed.
2. Secondly, very few people now remember that Misra, two and half decades ago, was a highly influential aide of the then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh. Two of Modi’s cabinet ministers, Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra, were incidentally Kalyan Singh’s deputies then, and had closely interacted with Misra. It’s believed that Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra might have pitched for this UP bureaucrat getting this coveted post. For Modi, the next UP assembly poll is crucial, and in that situation, a principal secretary with a sound UP background may come handy.
3. Thirdly, Misra as India’s WTO negotiator could impress the then commerce minister and present home and defence minister Arun Jaitley. Also, as telecom secretary, Misra was on good books of the then telecom minister Arun Shourie. It’s believed that Modi had taken Jaitley’s advice before summoning Misra to New Delhi's Gujarat Bhawan last week, and also on Monday, before finalizing his appointment as principal secretary to PM.
4. Fourthly, Modi had limited choices. Though prime minister finds his key aide and 1979 batch retired Gujarat cadre IAS K Kailashnathan as efficient, he has no experiences in Central government ministries. Also, KK as principal secretary would be quite junior when 1976 batch IAS officers are still serving.
5. In contrast, Misra is highly experienced. He was secretary, DoT and fertiliser, additional secretary/special secretary in commerce ministry and joint secretary in department of economic affairs (DEA). Also, between 2006 and 2009, Misra was chairman of telecom regulator Trai.
Who is Nripendra Misra?
DoB: March 8, 1945.
Education: Postgraduate in chemistry and political science and public administration from Allahabad University. Masters Degree from John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (Public Administration).
Service: IAS, 1967 batch, UP cadre
a) Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
b) Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, GoI
c) Secretary, Department of Fertilizers, GoI
d) Special Secretary/Additional Secretary, WTO, Ministry of Commerce, GoI
e) Minister (Economic), Embassy of India, USA,
f) Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, GoI
g) Consultant in World Bank, Asian Development Bank, IFAD and Govt. of Nepal