Who’s to blame?
The UPA government and Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar are at the centre of the current controversy over tweaking the CBI report to the Supreme Court on Coalgate. Understandably, a blame game is underway though it may already be too late to remedy the considerable damage that has already been done, with the Minister’s position looking increasingly shaky.
The buzz is that the hugely avoidable mess happened after the recent appointment of Gopal Krishna as Joint Secretary in the Law Ministry. Apparently there was considerable dissension in the Ministry over other secretaries having to route all correspondence with the Minister through Krishna, as stated in an office order of April 9, 2013. The question is whether the official is being made a scapegoat for lapses by others or is he the one who just might be responsible for his political master’s exit from the Ministry, as it seems more likely by the day?
Tussle in MEA
With Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai’s term expiring in July, the search for his successor is still underway. Many babu-watchers expected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take a decision on the appointment following his official visit to Germany. In the absence of an announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office, which subtly dominates such matters, expectedly there is furious speculation about the likely successor. Apparently, Sujatha Singh, ambassador to Germany, is tipped to succeed Mathai. In fact some believe that the delay in the announcement suggests that a succession “battle” is underway and lobbying is going on within the PMO itself.
Some suggest that Mathai, who has the support of the Kerala lobby, too is in the running for another go. Another name that is being talked about is that of S. Jaishankar, ambassador to Beijing. But it is clearly the PM’s advisors who will have the final say in the appointment. So for now, the lobbying continues.
The Gujarat Chief Minister may harbour Prime Ministerial ambitions but that doesn’t mean he is about to neglect his State. While his eyes may be on the national stage, he has also been quietly ensuring that he peoples his senior bureaucratic positions with trusted aides. According to sources, 1985 batch IAS officer Anil Mukim, a confidante of the CM, is poised to return to the State after a stint as Joint Secretary at the Centre.
Mukim had served as Additional Principal Secretary to Modi in 2002 and defended him before the Nanavati-Mehta Commission probing the 2011 Gujarat riots. He also denied the allegations made by IPS Sanjay Bhatt that Modi gave any illegal orders during the riots. Mukim is now expected to step into the shoes of K. Kailashnathan, current Principal Secretary to Modi, who is retiring in May. Another officer ready to make his comeback is 1983 batch IAS officer JN Singh who served on deputation with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) until March this year.