Sensing the current popular mood against the UP government due to the Covid crisis, the party and the Narendra Modi sarkar are keen to ensure the party’s success in the upcoming Assembly elections. A lot of that worry has to do with the perceptions about Yogi running the government with handpicked but clearly inadequate babu support.
When the trusted PMO aide Arvind Kumar Sharma was airdropped in Lucknow, he was no regular Gujarat cadre babu or just another BJP vice-president in Uttar Pradesh (after taking voluntary retirement). He was reportedly sent to rein in Yogi who has caused considerable discontent within the state unit of the party, and he remains the PMO’s eyes and ears within the Yogi Adityanath government.
Yogi too has gathered around his own trusted band of babus. It is this team that steered Yogi’s Covid management. Hovering over these exercises like Banquo’s ghost is a familiar presence, Navneet Sehgal. This consistently powerful 1988-batch IAS officer is once again chief firefighter, in-charge of the state information department as additional chief secretary and leading the perception battle against Covid failure. His dominant presence in the state government, over the last six months has not enthused too many other babus in UP. Yet, it is this larger cohort of babus who will matter more, going ahead and how they manage their last lap briefs, that will be crucial in the months ahead.
CBDT appointment raises more questions
The spate of appointments in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) seem to have raised more questions than answers among babu-watchers. After the end of CBDT chairman P.C. Mody’s extended tenure, the finance ministry has given additional charge of the post to J.B. Mohapatra, a 1985-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. With Mr Mohapatra as ad hoc chairman, the CBDT now has three 1985-batch board members, the other two being Anu J. Singh and Anuja Sarangi.
Sources say that there is also much speculation about why Mr Mohapatra was named the interim chairperson of CBDT and why the government chose to ignore the claim of K.M. Prasad, the senior-most board member. Mr Prasad who has about three months to go before retirement could easily have been given additional charge of interim chairman.
Besides his ad hoc position, Mr Mohapatra is the first regular member for investigation since 2019. The post of member, investigations, now seems to lead to the top post at CBDT, given that the current CEC Sushil Chandra held the same post before he was elevated to CBDT chairperson.
Interestingly, the CBDT board is likely to see more changes in the days ahead. Of the three new members, S.K. Gupta will complete his tenure in July while Anu Singh will retire in August this year as will K.M. Prasad. Will the government draft new members on the board or give extension to the current ones? Let’s wait and watch.
Caught between CM and Home Minister, Haryana DGP wants out
Walking a tightrope can get tiresome after a while. Haryana’s director general of police Manoj Yadava has sought repatriation to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for “personal reasons”, in a bid to end the war of words between chief minister Manohar Khattar and home minister Anil Vij over his tenure extension.
Mr Yadava was sent to Haryana on the recommendation by a UPSC committee for appointment as the state police chief. He had returned to his home state cadre after spending 15 years with the IB. The 1988-batch IPS officer has apparently written to additional chief secretary (home) Rajeev Arora seeking repatriation to IB and resume his old post of additional director.
While the move took some by surprise, those in the know believe that Mr Yadava’s inability to get along with his boss, the state home minister Anil Vij, may have been the last straw for the top cop. Earlier this year when chief minister Manohar Khattar had given Mr Yadava a year’s extension as DGP, the home minister had vehemently objected but Mr Khattar stuck to his guns and had his way.
It’s no secret that Mr Khattar and his home minister do not see eye to eye on several issues. Mr Yadava may be about to pay the price of their political rivalry if his request for repatriation is accepted.
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