Acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraverty, who has been replaced by Sudhir Prasad, may have paid the price for shooting off his mouth and ignoring the chief minister’s office (CMO) while making vital policy decisions, government officials with knowledge of the development said on Thursday.
Chakraverty, the state’s senior-most official, was asked to go late on Wednesday after serving for barely four months during which he repeatedly criticised the functioning of various departments and slammed the government for procrastinating over confirming him as the chief secretary.
"He did not consult the CM while taking vital decisions and made adverse remarks on several administrative files that (showed) the state government in bad light," said an official with the CMO who was privy to behind-the-scene moves to oust Chakraverty.
"Matters turned worse when Chakraverty appointed a woman IAS as his officer on special duty (OSD) without taking proper approval of the CMO or the cabinet."
Chakraverty, it is alleged, favoured the woman officer, who had charges of corruption pending against her, by recommending to chief minister Hemant Soren that she be given a clean chit.
Agitated by his two-page recommendation for her, Soren apparently shot back, asking why the government should not favour other bureaucrats who have similar corruption charges against them.
While the CMO had no immediate comment on Chakraverty’s removal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha national secretary and spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said it was a purely administrative decision taken in consultation with all the stakeholders of the government and neither the CM nor his party had any personal vendetta against the outgoing chief secretary.
Chakraverty too remained silent throughout the day and preferred not to comment on the allegations that resurfaced after Wednesday’s notification announcing his removal. He was made a member of state revenue council. The notification also announced changes in the designation of three other senior bureaucrats.
Santosh Kumar Satpathy replaced Sukhdev Singh as the chief minister's principal secretary. Singh has been made principal secretary to the housing department. Senior IAS AK Pandey attached with the Governor's House has been appointed as the director general of state Administrative Training Institute (ATI).
Chakraverty's well-wishers, both in the government as well as in the city, are disappointed.
They claimed Chakraverty, born in Ranchi, was made a scapegoat for calling a spade a spade and taking on the mafia, coal thieves and left wing extremist group, PLFI.
"He is a workaholic, and given a responsibility he would never sit idle," said Prashant, one of his close associates.
As the acting chief secretary, Chakraverty travelled extensively across the state raiding illegal coal depots, activating the slack health department by conducting late night visits to health centers and hospitals in rural areas and taking the administration to remote areas.
Taking on the PLFI in their den also made Chakraverty an enemy of several politicians, who have been wining berths in the state assembly and parliament with clandestine support from the LWE outfit, his supporters say.
"The politically influential coal mafia has also played a major role in his ouster," said an IAS officer close to Chakraverty on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.