From babus to netas
As Assembly Elections in Gujarat draw closer, babus and police officers are rushing to enter the poll fray. This column had earlier reported that (now former) additional Chief Secretary R.M. Patel had taken voluntary retirement ostensibly to join politics. This has now been confirmed, with Patel joining the BJP and likely to get a ticket in the elections.
But there are many more babus who are being tempted by the BJP and the Congress to either contest or campaign for them. Among the notables are IPS officer B.D. Vaghela, a close confidant of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has taken voluntary retirement and is likely to contest on a BJP ticket. On the other hand, Jagatsinh Vasava, a 1982-batch IAS officer, is slated to be a Congress candidate. Sources say, he is being pitted against his brother-in-law who is a BJP MLA and the State Assembly Speaker. Other names being mentioned in babu circles as likely candidates in the coming election are A.I. Saiyed, J. Chavda, B.H. Ghodsara, among others.
Playing it safe
In these scam-ridden days, politicians are notoriously prickly when it comes to babus who they believe may embarrass the government. Mines Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi discovered this to his cost when Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan informed the Cabinet that it was Trivedi who had submitted the Shah Commission report on mining in Goa to Parliament before submitting it to the Cabinet.
Though babus say Trivedi’s act was a usual practice, a guarded and beleaguered government decided to play safe and had him transferred to the Inland Waterways Authority. The action against Trivedi, a 1977 batch IAS officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre, has upset quite a few senior bureaucrats, though no one will say it openly. Obviously, after Coalgate, the government is wary of another mining scam exploding in its face. Meanwhile it is Trivedi who has had to
pay for this procedural “folly”.
Bending the rules
Union Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy is a notorious stickler for rules. For some time, sources say the Minister had been trying to get a favoured Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Sanjay Sudhir, out of the Ministry of External Affairs to his own turf, as a Joint Secretary. Unfortunately for Reddy, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) Secretary Alka Sirohi objected to this, citing the rulebook. Apparently Sudhir has not been empanelled yet to be eligible for such a position.
But now apparently, the Minister has managed to circumvent the “rules” by simply talking to his counterpart at the MEA, S.M. Krishna, who has reportedly agreed to “lend” Sudhir to Reddy’s ministry. Reddy clearly has had his way, and not the first time either, or so we are told.