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Rat race for PA hopefuls on at Maharashtra Mantralaya

MUMBAI:  After the three ruling allies chose their candidates in the Maharashtra Cabinet, there is a rush of applicants who are eyeing the job of Personal Assistants (PAs) to the ministers. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi ministers are receiving a large number of applications for the job of PAs.

“I have received more than 200 applications. We have to see and check all those applications. If possible, the interviews will be also conducted. Everyone wants to work with a minister,” Congress leader and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said.

The rat race is obvious as the PAs to ministers get accommodation at a reasonable rate at prime locations such as Churchgate and Worli. Perks also come various forms. Prestige in society and the Mantralaya — the State Secretariat — is guaranteed depending on what extent the PAs enjoy the confidence of their bosses. Often, PAs come in handy for their ministers with crucial inputs that help in taking decisions.

In 2014, the BJP-Shiv Sena dispensation had issued a government gazette that those who were PAs in the previous Congress-NCP government would not be appointed again. The general administration department, led by Devendra Fadnavis, issued a one-page order stating that there will be a ban on appointment of private secretary, officer on special duty and personal assistant for ministers who had worked with cabinet members of the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in the last 10 years.

While Fadnavis issued the directive on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move, still some minister like Prakash Mehta appointed Ajinkya Padwal, who was secretary to late former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, as a private secretary. “The (2014) decision gave the opportunity to a new battery of PAs in Mantralaya in 2014. Now, the new Maha Vikas Aghadi government has come in and everyone is expecting to get an opportunity,” said a PA hopeful.

“I have applied to at least 10 ministers. I have been in Mumbai for the last five years. My family is here now. My children are going to Mumbai schools. If we have to out of Mumbai, it will be difficult to live there. Once you are used to Mumbai’s lifestyle, it is tough to go out.”

Another PA in the previous Devendra Fadnavis government is still hopeful of making the cut. “I came to know that most of these (old) ministers are taking their old PAs back. Some of them are retired but they are comfortable with them only. Therefore, I decided to join any minister irrespective of his ministry. I need to be in Mumbai. If I go out, what I will earn in the year that amount can be earned within a month bypassing one “file” only. Working in Mantralaya matters,” he added.