Quite a few babus on Central deputation develop roots in Delhi and are reluctant to return to their parent cadre. It is clearly time for Amit Khare, Joint Secretary in the Human Resource Development Ministry to leave the Capital as his tenure at the Ministry is ending. Or will he? Sources say that efforts are underway to retain Khare’s services. Apparently the HRD ministry has sought a year’s extension for the 1985-batch IAS officer from the Bihar cadre. If that indeed happens, he will be among the longest-serving bureaucrats in Shastri Bhawan. Khare hit the headlines in 1996 as the babu who exposed the multi-crore fodder scam in Bihar when he was deputy commissioner of Chaibasa. He was reportedly handpicked by the late HRD Minister Arjun Singh and brought to Delhi. He has since then served under Kapil Sibal and M.M. Pallam Raju and now Smiti Irani. It is also being reported that Khare is a contender for the post of Member Secretary with the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority. Clearly, this is one very competent babu!
Mamata Wary of IAS Officers
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is wary of IAS officers these days, even retired ones. Departing from tradition she recently named S.R. Upadhyay, a retired West Bengal civil service officer, as State Election Commissioner, a position that until now used to be filled from the pool of retired IAS officers. Sources say that Ms Banerjee had a contentious relationship with his predecessor, the rather independent-minded Mira Pande, who refused to toe her line during the State Panchayat Elections. Though Upadhyay, who retired as Special Secretary, will be the sixth Election Commissioner of West Bengal, he is the first State civil service babu to head the poll panel. The babu fraternity in West Bengal is split over the Government’s decision. While former IAS and IPS officers have termed it “unprecedented” and are skeptical about the order, other babus are happy that one of them has been named to a post and help breach the IAS “bastion”.
Filling the vacuum
Uncertainty trails the exit of Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda, who has been shifted to Delhi as Textile Secretary in the first major bureaucratic reshuffle ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. Panda, a 1980-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Manipur-Tripura cadre, had been Chief Secretary since May 2010. The appointment of Panda’s successor, sources say, has been held up because of stiff opposition from a section of senior babus, including women officers, to some of the contenders. Among those in contention for the position are G. Kameswara Rao and Pravin Srivastava. Rao is Additional Chief Secretary of the State while Srivastava is Member Secretary of the National Monuments Authority under the Union Ministry for Culture. Despite the murmurs of dissent, the State government has not shown any signs of urgency in naming the State’s new Chief Secretary. Its indecision, unfortunately, is only adding to the uncertainty and creating more rumours.