Jet falling into SBI’s lap for eventual sale has drawn more attention to the reappointment of Ashwani Lohani as chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India and continues to be talked about in babu circles. Mr Lohani had already served as CMD of Air India before being appointed as chairman of the railway board, an ex-officio post of principal secretary. So why did Mr Lohani accept the Air India post, which is of the additional secretary-level post and that too for a mere year? It is after all uncharacteristic of the Modi sarkar to effect this post-retirement reappointment when it always tries to convey its belief in the stability of an administration.
Some babu observers believe that Mr Lohani has been brought back to complete the disinvestment process in Air India, in case the NDA government returns to power after the general elections.
It is said that employee unions were still a roadblock to the divestment of Air India, slowing down the winding up process. However, since Mr Lohani is widely known to enjoy the respect and confidence of Air India employees, it is likely that the government is looking at him to help smoothening the mammoth task of divestment.
Cop vs cop in Punjab
In Punjab, all babus have their attention glued to the Chandigarh branch of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which is hearing a plea challenging the appointment of Dinkar Gupta as the director general of police, Punjab. The tribunal has issued notices to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Punjab government, DGP Dinkar Gupta, former DGP Suresh Arora and others. Mr Gupta’s appointment has been challenged by DGP-rank officer, Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, who is the second senior Punjab Police officer to have opposed the appointment.
Earlier, DGP rank officer, Mohammad Mustafa had moved the tribunal against the decision. Mr Chattopadhyaya has claimed that former DGP Arora had a vested interest in Mr Gupta’s appointment as the names of both surfaced in a report filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court on the nexus between drug traffickers and law enforcement agencies in Punjab.
Mr Chattopadhyaya has requested CAT to quash the February 7 order which appointed Mr Gupta as the DGP of Punjab. Once the hearings begin in April, babu-watchers — expect a lot of dirty linen to be washed in public!
The cracks within up bureaucracy
Barely months before the general elections, Uttar Pradesh is witnessing yet another round of a babu turf war which is likely to affect not just the functioning of the Yogi Adityanath government, but also cause problems during election duty.
Alleging that they are “victims of apartheid” and discrimination, the promotee IAS officers have broken away from the state IAS Association and formed their own group called Promotee IAS Officers’ Forum, according to Umesh Pratap Singh, general secretary and convener of the forum. The forum now plans to approach the chief minister with their grievances against the direct hire IAS officers.
This is not the only occasion when a turf war among various cadres of the Central and state services has been witnessed in the state. In 2017, the state witnessed a confrontation between the IAS and the IPS, when SPs in districts refused to follow orders of DMs in transfers and postings of SHOs. The IPS saw it as an attempt to usurp their administrative powers.
While the IAS Association denies that there is any discrimination against promotee officers and is willing to address their grievances, it seems unlikely that the rift can be healed anytime soon.