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Modi to weed out Keshubhai loyalists Friday, December 14, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave clear indications on Tuesday that despite his meeting with his chief party rival and predecessor Keshubhai Patel on December 3, he would continue his efforts to remove all ex-CM's men.

The high-profile chairman of the Non-Resident Gujarati Foundation Hari Desai has been dropped. On his part, Desai claimed, though, that his three-year term has ended and would now opt for Sahitya Akademi fellowship. Secretariat sources said he has been eased out for his proximity with Keshubhai.

An official note issued by Desai's office on his 'retirement' from the post on Tuesday praised Keshubhai for having 'initiated the concept of NRG to create a bond between Gujaratis world over'. Desai said he was 'fully satisfied' with his three-year stint under Keshubhai. Among his achievements he cited: bring in foreign help with NRG help for the Kutch quake victims. An NRG control room did the job.

Circles close to Modi refused to give any such certificate to Desai. One of those who organised Keshubhai's two foreign trips to the US and Europe in 1999-2000, a major cause of embarrassment for the ex-CM after indictment by the Comptroller and Auditor General's report put out this summer, Desai tried his best to remain above controversy and close to the RSS' Nagpur office. Yet he failed to keep his post. The other man who organised Keshubhai's foreign trip, N.V. Vasani, science and technology adviser, was dropped immediately after Modi took over.

One who visited Nagpur to make up with Modi just a few days after he took over on October 7, Desai's indictment by CAG report is said to have become an eyesore for Modi. CAG, which criticised the ex-CM for converting his personal visit to attend a Patel samaj function into an official one, said, his economic adviser S K Shelat and NRG foundation chairman Hari Desai did not get the government of India permission for foreign travel, 'though required'.

CAG also indicted Desai, along with industries commissioner Kirit Shelat and adviser S K Shelat, for having not submitted 'detailed account of utilisation of entertainment allowance, incidental expenses'. It said, "In the absence of adjustment bills, these amounts drawn by these officers are to be refunded to the government". It is not known if Desai did that. The report said the then CM and his team's objective 'were not achieved'. It took exception to the NRG Foundation for providing entertainment allowance.

Desai's post as chairman, NRG Foundation, goes to state NRG secretary Nethra Shenoy temporarily, till a formal appointment is made. Desai, a journalist, would now be involved in some ideological work for the Sangh Parivar, by making a comparative study of Mahatma Gandhi, Dalit icon B R Ambedkar and RSS stalwart K B Hegdewar by trying to find out common points among the three.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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