Cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, the country’s top civil servant, will continue in the job for another six months, with the government Friday giving him an extension.
Seth, whose term was to end December 13, will now serve till June 13, 2015. This is the second time that the Modi government has asked the 63-year-old officer to stay on. The UPA government, too, had extended his tenure by a year.
“The PM cleared his extension for six months. The extension is meant to give continuity,” an official with the prime minister’s office told HT.
The decision makes finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who was brought to Centre from Rajasthan, the frontrunner for the top position.
“The move to give extension to Seth will ensure senior bureaucrats like Madhav Lal, secretary micro, small and medium enterprises, and Alok Rawat, secretary, administrative reforms, are out of Mehrishi’s way,” a secretary in the government said.
Lal retires in June. Rawat, the senior-most officer after Seth, is expected to move to Sikkim soon as chief secretary. He steps down in July, sources said.
Power secretary PK Sinha, whose service ends the same month, too, has a shot at the post but Mehrishi remains the favourite. “The race is effectively between Sinha and Mehrishi. Another contender, petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra, will also be out of contention as he retires in April,” the secretary said.
The government is to soon name the intelligence bureau (IB) director, sources said. Dineshwar Sharma, a special director with the internal spy agency, was the top contender, sources said.