Bansal’s Transfer Raj
Things have changed at the Railway Ministry since the days when the Trinamool Congress held sway. Ever since the Congress party took back the railway portfolio, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has been busy removing all traces of the TMC from Rail Bhawan. Senior officials who were considered close to the Trinamool Congress are being gently but firmly eased out to nondescript posts. Though Bansal takes pains to assert that these are “routine” transfers, the rail babus know that that is not the case. Recently, sources point out, Executive Director for Public Undertakings, Parthasarathy Mandal, was transferred to South Eastern Central Railway, and another ED Manan Ghoshal was sent off to look after Northeast Frontier Railway. And apparently, Railway Board Secretary R.C. Jat was amongst the first officials to be replaced when Bansal took over. Certainly these ongoing changes are causing considerable consternation among the babus, especially those who are perhaps not part of Bansal’s grand design.
The arrival of 1977 batch IAS officer A.K. Joshi from Uttarakhand to Uttar Pradesh has created quite a buzz in Lucknow. The reason is that he is now the senior-most babu in the State, senior even to UP Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, who belongs to the 1978 batch. Babu-watchers are trying to read deeper into this event.
Apparently the State Government brought in Joshi after consulting with the Centre. Joshi’s return, just nine months before retirement, has been justified on “compassionate grounds”. But veterans recall that Joshi enjoyed considerable clout when he served in UP during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime before he opted for the Uttarakhand cadre in 2009, reportedly being unhappy with the insignifcant posts assigned to him by Mayawati who succeeded Mulayam. The question is whether Joshi’s cadre change at this stage of his career only a “special case” or has he been brought in to shore up Akhilesh Yadav’s administration.
Keeping It Together
It is now clear that officials serving in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are likely to continue until the end of the tenure of the UPA Government. Dheeraj Gupta, a 1993 batch IAS from the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, has been given a 15-month extension, which should see him at South Block through June 2014. Clearly, the idea is to maintain continuity and retain key people till the very end. Gupta handles PMO security, among other key tasks.
Sources say that Gupta was brought into PMO soon after Pulok Chatterji returned from Washington DC to be Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The extension to Gupta is being seen by PMO watchers as Chatterji’s move to keep his team together, which involved tweaking the rule on ceiling of tenure. Obviously, babus who have been eyeing a stint in the PMO will have to bide their time, since the incumbents are unlikely to make way for new faces.