Seth Gets To Stay
The third six-month extension for Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth makes him perhaps the only senior babu that Modi sarkar has chosen to retain from the UPA Government. Clearly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi relies greatly on Seth to deem him irreplaceable, for now.
The announcement by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has also ended speculation on who Modi would pick for Cabinet Secretary, and also the hopes of quite a few contenders. Few expected Seth to get another extension from the Government but it seems that continuity is going to be an important sub-theme in Modi’s otherwise goal of change. It’s also become a norm of sorts that the Cabinet Secretary gets three to four years’ tenure though on paper it’s two years. Former Cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi got a three years term, but his successor KM Chandrasekhar had an unusually long tenure of four years. But all this aside, the babu mills are trying to go beyond. Who was this meant to eliminate from being considered? And, even more importantly, for those interested in the future, who now becomes the new front runner? Those are what Delhi’s elite babu tongues have on their tips at the moment.
All eyes are on Hasmukh Adhia, the Financial Services Secretary who is in charge of preparing next year’s Union Budget. Last month the 1981-batch IAS officer was brought in from Gujarat, where he was Additional Chief Secretary for finance. He replaced G.S. Sandhu. Though he has clearly got his task cut out, observers say that Adhia is more than capable of delivering the goods for Modi sarkar on the economy front. Adhia, it is being said, is in this pivotal position not just because he has worked as principal secretary to Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat or because of his reputed “direct access” to the Boss. Observers who have tracked the babu in Gujarat say he is easily one of the ablest officials in the civil service. He has, they say, a well deserved reputation as a hardworking babu, known for his “no nonsense” attitude and honesty. Interestingly, he’s perhaps the only IAS officer who has his own website. A doctorate in yoga studies, he writes regular columns on spirituality and has authored two books. But his best moment may be yet to come!
Anil Sinha eventually did ensure “an insider” made it, as the new Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). But like his immediate two predecessors Ranjit Sinha and A.P. Singh, he too is from the Bihar cadre. Though he claims that he prefers to remain in the background, there is little chance of that happening in the position he has now assumed. His is an unenviable job, as he has come in at a time when the agency’s credibility is badly strained and it has been under fire from all quarters, particularly the Supreme Court. The previous two CBI chiefs too are enveloped in controversies that do no credit to the CBI. Sinha recently said that he believes in letting his actions do the talking. And it is his future actions that will be closely scrutinised. Will the CBI remain a “caged parrot” or will it regain its credibility will depend on how Sinha’s “acts” in the days ahead. But his time as Special Director and second in command at the agency will no doubt be useful.