As incumbent chief secretary JK Banthia’s retirement nears, the race for the topmost administrative post has intensified among senior bureaucrats.
Banthia is scheduled to superannuate on June 1. An officer of the 1977 batch of Indian Administrative Service, he has been the chief secretary for over a year. His juniors, additional chief secretary JS Saharia (from the 1978 batch) and Amitabh Rajan (1979 batch) are frontrunners for the coveted office.
The CS is the head of the state administration, and his appointment is at the discretion of the chief minister.
Prithviraj Chavan, who had chosen Banthia based on his seniority, may not do so this time, and there have been instances when the incumbent CS was awarded an extension or a junior superseded others, which has become a cause of worry for Saharia, who heads school education department.
Rajan, his junior by a batch, was repatriated from the Union government to head the state home department by Chavan.
Lobbying hard with Chavan, Saharia has staked his claim on the basis of his seniority alone, while Rajan, a relatively low-profile officer, has left the decision to Chavan.
In giving them the top job, Chavan will have to deal with resentment among women bureaucrats. He will have to ignore TF Thekkekara (1978 batch), who heads the minority department.
Sources in Mantralaya said she did not have much of a chance as she would get just 5 months in office.
JM Phatak, who would have won the race hands down in normal circumstances, is beyond consideration as he is under suspension in the Adarsh scam. Saharia, if appointed, will be in office for 13 months, while Rajan will stay in office till January 2015.