Devendra Fadnavis to pick babus the Modi way

  • Dharmendra Jore and Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 04, 2014 21:06 IST

With the new chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ thrust on running the government along the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre, the appointments of senior bureaucrats and support staff in the chief minister’s office (CMO) and other ministries is expected to be carried out with thorough scrutiny of eligible candidates.

There is already buzz in the state bureaucracy about a reshuffle soon.

Fadnavis has decided to select officers based on certain parameters, such as a clean service record, efficiency, vision, readiness to put in hard work, ability to maintain confidentiality in matters they handle and an innovative approach at work.

The officers who would definitely stay out are the ones who ran feuds with senior BJP legislators at the district, division or Mantralaya levels when the party was in the opposition.

The chief minister may bring on officials who were side lined by the Congress-NCP government owing to their refusal to blindly toe their line. The departments held by senior BJP ministers are likely to bring officers of their choice, with officers who were party to controversial decisions taken in the previous regime being shunted.

Fadnavis confirmed that he would follow the guidelines set up by the Modi government in selecting bureaucrats and support staff. “The personal staff of the ministers, including private secretaries and personal assistants of the former ministers (the Congress-led government) will not be preferred,” he said.

Fadnavis has already appointed Pravin Darade as his secretary in the CMO. Darade headed the Nagpur Improvement Trust, when PM Narendra Modi laid foundation stone of the Metro railway there. The then CM Prithviraj Chavan boycotted the function, claiming that he was booed by BJP workers at earlier functions, where he shared the dais with Modi. Chavan unceremoniously shifted Darade to the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency in Pune.

Other officials are lobbying hard for the second post of secretary in the CMO. Manisha Mhaiskar, medical education secretary; Ashwini Bhide, school education secretary; and Sanjay Bhatia, head of CIDCO, are some of the names that are making rounds. Chavan had three IAS officers in his staff. Insiders denied possibility of any retired IAS officer being appointed as advisor to the chief minister.

As per to the Modi model, no relatives or acquaintances should be appointed in the CMO or any minister’s office. The officials who are shortlisted would go under the scanner to check their integrity and affiliation. The BJP workers (not relatives), who have been working for the legislators-turned-ministers, could be exceptions. Many party workers who were part of personal staff of ministers between 1995 and 1999 are vying for the jobs. Service and personal records of aspirants – criminal cases, confidential reports and status of departmental inquiries – would be examined before selecting them.

The officers of the rank of additional collectors and other Class One officers are running from pillar to post for getting the plum jobs of ministers’ personal secretaries and officers on special duty. There are many officials who have been working at the Mantralaya for 15 years and are not willing to get repatriated to their parent departments.

Sources close to the CM said officers under whose tenure controversial decisions were taken in the Congress-NCP government are expected to be shunted out. Fadnavis is in the process of identifying bureaucrats who could head crucial departments. The CM will start the cleansing process with departments such as UDD, housing, energy etc. The cabinet ministers will also be consulted before making appointments. New bureaucratic head for the home department is expected after the incumbent Amitabh Rajan retires on January 1, 2015.

Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar may not like to work with incumbent additional chief secretary (finance) Sudhir Srivastava, against whom he had moved a breach of privilege motion last year over alleged humiliating treatment. Revenue minister Eknath Khadse, who would control the state’s collectors and divisional commissioners, may ask for revamp at all levels.

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