Wonder why PM Bhargava did not bother to return his Padma Bhushan when he was unceremoniously sacked as Vice Chairman of National Knowledge Commission (NKC) in 2007 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. What can a bigger insult than the PMO sending a letter of termination to the office of a man who claims to a senior scientist?
Bhargava and NKC boss Sam Pitroda did not see eye to on various issues in NKC and Bhargava, typical of a Sarkari babu, insisted on long-winded discussions and dissent notes in official records. Sam was in a rush to get things done and after putting up with the drama for some time, asked for Bhargava’s resignation, which the latter refused. Bhargava insisted that the sacking order should come from the Prime Minister and Sam, a 10 Janpath confidant gave an ultimatum of “either him or me” to Manmohan Singh.
In fact R Gopalakrishnan, joint secretary, PMO asked Bhargava to put in his papers, but he again refused. Angry with the adamant attitude, Prime Minister’s principal secretary TKA Nair informed Bhargava that a letter sacking him would be sent to his Hyderabad office.
I remember this incident well as I was then working with Sam and NKC in preparing the contours of National Health Portal, which was one of the recommendations of NKC.
There many other skeletons in Bhargava’s cupboard including the campaign that he ran against indigenous Polio vaccine manufacturers based out of Hyderabad. But, we will save that for another day.