West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's unpredictable nature has again hit finance minister Pranab Mukherjee: the minister failed to get a particular IAS officer from Bengal for his North Block office as Banerjee shot down his request citing shortage of officers in her administration.
Mukherjee was looking for Saumitra Mohan, a 2002 batch IAS as his private secretary (PS). Banerjee, instead, transferred Mohan to the politically sensitive Darjeeling. While many in Delhi waited for Mohan, he told HT over telephone on Thursday, “I was in Birbhum. Now I have already taken charge of Darjeeling.”
Banerjee flatly refused to spare Mohan, regarded as a brilliant tech-savvy officer, for Mukherjee citing shortage of IAS in the state. Against the sanctioned strength of the IAS officers for the state, Bengal has a shortage of almost 40% IAS in various ranks.
Banerjee's refusal forced Mukherjee to search for a suitable alternative. The incumbent PS, Manoj Pant, is delayed in joining an assignment with the World Bank. After serving Mukherjee for three years, Pant is set to join as the senior assistant (a joint secretary equivalent rank) to India's executive director in the World Bank.
New Delhi has appointed MN Prasad, secretary to the PM, as its next ED in the fund bank.
Banerjee’s reluctance to accommodate Mukherjee's wish comes amid the growing tension between Trinamool and its ally Congress. Earlier this month, Banerjee decided not to accompany the PM for his Dhaka visit.
After coming to power in Bengal, Banerjee extracted special financial help from the centre that even saw her publicly criticizing Mukherjee. Although the two parties are partners in the government at the Centre as well as in the state, Congress has already knocked the doors of Rahul Gandhi to complaint about Trinamool’s “atrocities”.