The prime minister is receiving so many resignation letters from his ministers these days, the latest being from Mr. Kamal Nath, that he has appointed a special secretary of cabinet rank to receive and process the resignations.
I had a brief talk with the secretary. "You must be very busy?"
"Yes," said the secretary, looking up from a desk piled with letters. "Every post brings a fresh lot of resignations. I have requisitioned more staff to handle the mail."
"What exactly is the job of this office?"
"Our job is to receive the letters and give an acknowledgement to the postman if they are by registered post. There are three lady clerks, class III, who open the envelopes, and flag them for priority," the secretary said.
"Quite through," I said.
"Yes," said the secretary, "we follow standard procedures. The letters are then sent to the typing pool and three copies are made. The original is sent to me for intialling, the copies are stamped and attested in the presence of a notary public. These are not ordinary letter, these are resignation letters. We have to be very careful."
"I can understand that," I said.
"The secretary explained: "Previously, when ministers rarely resigned, their letters went direct to the prime minister. The prime minister kept them in his pocket and forgot them. The soluation has changed greatly now."
"I was coming to that," I said. "Why do you think are all these minister resigning."
"Because of the diary," the official said. "The diary, if you initials are in the diary, you have to send a letter of resignation to the prime minister. Our first task is to match the initials with names."
"When do you decide whether the resignation should be accepted or not?"
"This office does not decide that, it only recommendes. The recommedation is sent to the prime minister's principal secretary. The matter is then handed over to the legal department, while the cabinet considers the political fallout, if any, of the resignation."
"Generally, do you recommend that a resignation should be accepted or not?" I asked.
"I cannot give you a specific answer to this question," the secretary said. "It varies from minister to minister. If it is somebody like Madhavrao Scindia, we recommend that the resignation should be accepted. He is used to resgining. But if it is V.C. Shukla, we have to consider."
"What about Mr. Kamal Nath. Are you going to recommend that his resignation be accepted?" I asked.
"His letter is in the typing pool, we have to still see it," the secretary said.
"What about the prime minister, when does he get to see the resignation letters?" I asked.
"The prime minister does not have the time to write his own resignation letter, where does he have the time to read other people's resignation letters!" the secretary said.