West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
Buoyed by her thumping win in the Bhabanipur by-election, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is now mulling on introducing lateral entry into the state government a la the Central government. Sources say that the state government is hoping to get domain specialists in senior positions, such as special secretary and joint secretary. Lateral entry will enable these specialists to get posted to different state departments as advisers.
DKB has learnt that the state home secretary B.P. Gopalika is preparing the final proposal to be submitted to Mamata Didi for her final nod. Those in the know say that the proposed appointments will be contractual and lateral entrants will need a minimum of 15 years of relevant experience. The pay and perks are being worked out by the home department and the administrative reforms department.
Apparently, the government is looking for entrants with expertise in civil aviation, commerce, and economic affairs and their age should not be less than 40 years.
However, observers do point out that the Centre’s lateral entry scheme, first announced in 2018, has not been the runaway success everyone expected. But the Centre is ploughing on, and earlier this year advertised 30 posts at the level of joint secretaries and directors for lateral recruitment.
Curious goings-on at ED
In a puzzling development, the ministry of finance has reportedly turned down the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) proposal seeking extension of the tenure of Satyabrata Kumar, who is currently working as joint director in ED.
Sources inform DKB that the ministry’s department of revenue has advised ED to take immediate action for relieving Satyabrata Kumar. The ministry also refused the directorate’s proposal for placing the candidature of Satyabrata Kumar before the committee headed by CVC for his promotion in the rank of Additional Director. It said that if needed, ED may approach the Supreme Court for the same.
Those in the know say that while such orders are uncommon, but a special mention of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s approval makes this a rare case indeed. Curiously, it is learnt that Kumar, an IRS officer, was not even aware of his repatriation. Interestingly, another ED officer Sushil Kumar who was special director (Mumbai) had been repatriated to his parent cadre in July this year.
A babu’s unusually long innings got longer
Rare is the babu who has survived in the same post into the second tenure of the NDA government, but L.C. Goyal, CMD of the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) has done it. Last month, Mr Goyal was given an unprecedented fifth continuous extension, which takes his tenure well into next year. The former Union home secretary and retired 1979-batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre was named ITPO chief back in 2015.
The longevity of Mr Goyal’s tenure is often the subject of discussion among Delhi’s babus. Except for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mr Goyal may well be the only babu who has enjoyed a consistent and stable run in the same post. But the simple answer is that Mr Goyal heads a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In aspirational value, it is at par with the Central Vista project.
Mr Goyal is in charge of redeveloping the International Exhibition and Convention Centre at Pragati Maidan, which was among the first announcements made by Narendra Modi as PM. What makes him tick with Mr Modi, sources say, is that he maintains a low profile and is known in babu circles as a no-nonsense officer with undoubted integrity. Mr Modi wishes the convention centre to be a unique symbol of his New India, and Mr Goyal has to ensure that it does.