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  Opinion   Columnists  02 Feb 2021  As PM reshuffles his pack of babus, plum jobs for two ‘sidelined’ officers

As PM reshuffles his pack of babus, plum jobs for two ‘sidelined’ officers

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Published : Feb 3, 2021, 4:10 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2021, 4:10 am IST

The Centre has transferred and posted 18 secretaries to different ministries and departments while several have been promoted

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In a major reshuffle, the Centre has transferred and posted 18 secretaries to different ministries and departments while several have been promoted. As is often the case, there is a story behind many of the babus involved in the reshuffle.

The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has finally got a new secretary in Deepak Khandekar, who was laterally shifted to North Block from Shastri Bhavan where he was tribal affairs secretary. The post had been vacant for four months. Curiously, the government may soon have to find a replacement for Mr Khandekar as well, since he is due to retire in seven months. There is also much whispering about who will replace A.B.P. Pandey, who retires as finance secretary in the next 45 days.

 

Of the 18 IAS officers involved in the reshuffle, sources say that 13 were appointed as secretaries while five were upgraded to the special secretary in the rank of secretary. They include Praveen Garg, S.S. Sandhu, Anjali Bhawara, J.N. Swain and Anil Kumar Jha.

A lot of the buzz has centred around two officers who have been given plum assignments despite rumours that they had been sidelined. The first is 1988 batch IAS officer Alok Kumar of the Uttar Pradesh cadre who has been shifted from his cadre state and appointed Union power secretary. The other is also a UP cadre officer Alok Tandon who has been named secretary, ministry of mines.

 

Arvind Kumar Sharma, who recently took VRS to plunge into the UP legislature, has been replaced in the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) by another Gujarat cadre officer, B.B. Swain.

Cutting it fine

The delay in inviting applications to the post of managing director of Delhi Metro has led to speculation that incumbent Mangu Singh may get yet another extension on March 31, when his second extension ends.

Sources say that since Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is a joint venture between the Centre and the Delhi government, the delay in starting the procedure could be because the two governments are unable to decide how to proceed in the matter. Normally, the process is initiated and completed by the state government with the concurrence of the Centre. Seeing as the two governments rarely see eye-to-eye on various issues, this could another of those instances.

 

Meanwhile, Mangu Singh has enjoyed a rather long innings heading the Delhi Metro. He took over from “Metro Man” E. Sreedharan in January 2012. He was given an extension in December 2016 and another extension in December last year until March 31, 2021, to give the government sufficient time to find a suitable successor.

But that clearly isn’t happening, say observers. The delay has set off speculation about the government’s plans since a clause in the Delhi Metro rules states unequivocally that a suitable person for senior posts must be named before the posts fall vacant. Though there is still some time, by dragging the process the government is cutting it fine, to say the least.

 

Babu who came in from the cold

Tukaram Mundhe, a 2004-batch IAS officer known for his frequent transfers and who was kept waiting on posting since August last year, has seemingly come in from the cold, for now. He has been appointed as secretary of the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission.

According to sources, this is the Maharashtra cadre officer’s 17th posting in 15 years of his civil service career! Known for his rule-based work ethic, it is not surprising that he came up against vested interests. Apparently, he has faced threats and had no-confidence motions passed against him in several municipalities where he served. In his last posting at the Nagpur municipal corporation, he was appointed member secretary in the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran in September last year, but the appointment was inexplicably cancelled within days and he was kept waiting for posting.

 

It can be hoped now he will have a more stable stint at his new workplace, but don’t count on it!

Tags: pm reshuffles 18 ias officers, 18 secretaries to different ministries, ias officers reshuffle