Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda is not one to keep all his senior bureaucrats in good humour. Sources say that the mood in the high reaches of the State bureaucracy is currently antagonistic towards the CM. The culprit, it seems, is Hooda’s reluctance to part with his favoured babus even after they retire. Most recently, the State Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Chaudhery was granted a six-month extension.
But Choudhery’s is probably the latest example of Hooda’s policy. He has also given a three-month extension to his Principal Secretary Chhatar Singh, when he failed to get the Centre’s nod for a six-month extension for the babu. Others who have ‘benefitted’ in Hooda raj are five former Chief Secretaries, including G. Madhavan who was made chief information commissioner; Meenaxi Anand Chaudhary, Urvashi Gulati, Prem Prashant and Dharam Vir.
Being deprived of a possible promotion, the resentment among the top babus in Haryana is perhaps understandable. But probably there is not much they can do about it. At least for the time being.
By naming Sujatha Singh, currently ambassador to Germany, as the next Foreign Secretary, the Government decided to play safe and go by the rulebook (which is not often the case). In the run-up to the announcement of Ranjan Mathai’s successor at the Ministry of External Affairs, there were several contenders in the fray, besides Ms Singh. As this column had earlier commented, S Jaishankar, the ambassador to China, was at some stage considered the frontrunner. It was suggested that he was close to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But sources say what tilted the scales in Ms Singh’s favour were reports that a “minor rebellion” was brewing in MEA, with many mandarins senior to Jaishankar reportedly threatening to resign if he was frog-leaped over them. So Jaishankar’s candidature faded while Ms Singh emerged ahead, according to the seniority principle.
Babu faces the axe
The lure of an assignment with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington kept Rahul Anand, a 1996-batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre away for over eight years. He now faces termination of his services after failing to return and join duty. Anand was meant to return to the State in December last year but sought a six-month extension. As his deadline approached he sought another extension which has been denied. According to sources, Sushil Negi, Principal Secretary for Personnel, has recommended termination of Anand’s service and forwarded the file to the State Chief Secretary for action. It does seem that Anand is not the only babu from Himachal Pradesh to go AWOL. Last year, senior IAS officer Manisha Sridhar too quit the service after a disagreement with the Government over grant of leave for foreign assignments.