Dilli Ka Babu: Kerala CM’s quandary

The abrupt departure of Mr Joshi and Mr Kaushik is exacerbated by the reluctance of other senior officials to serve in their positions.

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government, already wracked with financial woes, now also needs to find new heads for the state finance department. Two senior IAS officers of the department have been appointed at the Centre on deputation. Additional chief secretary (finance) Manoj Joshi and principal secretary (finance resources) Sanjeev Kaushik are departing at a time when the state’s finances are in dire straits.

According to sources, Mr Joshi, a 1989-batch IAS officer, has been appointed as additional secretary of food processing industries, while Mr Kaushik, a 1992-batch officer, is additional secretary, department of financial services, in the ministry of finance.

Both babus were part of the six-member team dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis, exploring methods to mobilise revenue and cut expenditure.

The abrupt departure of Mr Joshi and Mr Kaushik is exacerbated by the reluctance of other senior officials to serve in their positions. Clearly, it is perceived as an uphill task in the context of Kerala’s precarious fiscal health.

Sources say that the finance department has been suggesting to the government to declare a plan holiday for a couple of years, or at least decrease the plan size. But this has not gone down well with the Pinarayi Vijayan sarkar.

A vexing choice
In the light of the approaching Assembly elections, the race to become the new police commissioner of the capital is being watched with great interest. Amulya Kumar Patnaik, the current incumbent, is retiring on January 31, 2020.

There are several senior officers in the running, with S.N. Srivastava, special director general of CRPF, in the lead. Other names being mentioned include Ajay Kashyap, Taj Hasan and S. Nityanand. All are UT cadre IPS officers.

However, some believe that the Centre may look outside the UT cadre this time. The apparent reason is that the UT cadre offers a small pool of talent for the government to consider. And with the law and order situation in the capital in flux due to agitations and general state of discontent in the public, the government does not want to take the risk that would affect its image for the Assembly elections. This may prompt the government to bring in a senior officer from outside the cadre, a move that is unlikely to please the UT cadre officers. One of the more obvious choices isn’t in the running despite rumours. What will the government decide?

Centre debars IAS officer
A miffed Centre has reportedly debarred senior IAS officer Alok Tandon of the Uttar Pradesh cadre from appointment to the post of secretary. Even UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to move the Central government.

According to sources, this rare action stems from Mr Tandon not taking up the post of secretary of the department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG) with the additional charge of secretary of pension and pensioners’ welfare last October. Apparently, Mr Tandon did not want to join DARPG and had requested the Uttar Pradesh government to write to the Centre for exempting him for another 12 months. At present, he is chairman of the Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway industrial development authority. He is also commissioner of infrastructure and industrial development (IIDC).

The Centre refused to acquiesce to his request and to further express its displeasure has debarred Mr Tandon from appointment as secretary in the GOI. The babu has less than three years of service left but his career prospects are now rather bleak.

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