Dilli Ka Babu: Extended innings for Jadhav
Mr Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Shivpal Yadav is plugging for his trusted babu Deepak Singhal.
The three months’ extension granted to Karnataka chief secretary Arvind Jadhav, who was to retire on June 30, has not come as a surprise to observers. In recent days, the Siddaramaiah government has been rocked by dissidence following the Cabinet reshuffle, with angry demonstrations by supporters of the dissidents in the party who were not given ministerial berths. The chief had sacked 14 ministers prior to the swearing-in of new ministers. The current eruption of rebellion that shows no sign of abating was expected given how senior leaders and various anti-Siddaramaiah factions constantly made no bones about their hostility against him as the chief minister. In this background, Mr Siddaramaiah has chosen to tread carefully and retained his trusted chief secretary for some more time. Mr Jadhav, a 1978-batch IAS officer, is now the second chief secretary in the Siddaramaiah government to be granted an extension. Sources say that additional chief secretary K. Ratnaprabha is likely to succeed him when his extended tenure ends in September.
Babus & netas clash in Kerala
Though the line is clearly demarcated between politicians and babus, sometimes it may get blurred. In Kerala, a rather public spat has occurred between the state transport minister A.K. Saseendran and transport commissioner Tomin J. Thachankary over an order issued by the babu. It raises the question of whether bureaucrats on their own are empowered to take decisions on issues concerning the public.
The babu recently issued an order stating that petrol will not be sold to two-wheeler drivers who don’t wear helmets. The minister reportedly termed the order as “stupid” and “illegal”, though the babu defended his action by stating that he was “empowered” to issue it in order to enforce use of helmets by two-wheeler drivers.
The spat that took place publicly has split the bureaucracy. They are also unhappy with the mantra for denouncing the transport commissioner. It’s probably a storm in a teacup and likely to blow over soon, but the question it has raised about what a babu can or cannot do will need to be solved.
The Uttar Pradesh government has named Alok Ranjan, who retired last month as chief secretary of UP, as chief advisor to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. But the decision has exposed the faultlines within the government and the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan.
Sources say that despite knowing that a vacancy was coming up, the CM could not decide on the new chief secretary, probably due to the lack of consensus within the Yadav parivar. It’s the old-timers versus those who owe allegiance to young Akhilesh. For now, agricultural production commissioner Pravir Kumar has been made the acting chief secretary, even though he is in the race to be appointed full-time chief secretary. Mr Kumar enjoys a good image but observers are unsure about his chances to replace Mr Ranjan because of an earlier run-in with senior minister Azam Khan, who has the ear of Samajwadi Party leader Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav. But he has the advantage of enjoying the CM’s confidence.
Sources expect Mr Akhilesh Yadav to make an announcement on the new chief secretary soon, but the decision has been delayed due to several senior party leaders having reservations about the contenders for the top post. Apparently,
Mr Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav is plugging for his trusted babu Deepak Singhal, principal secretary for irrigation, but that could probably be a negative for the CM who is keen to create his own band of trusted babus. Hopefully, the suspense will be short-lived, given that time is running out before elections are inevitably announced.