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What’s cooking in the state bureaucracy?

india Updated: May 07, 2013 01:35 IST

For the past few days, many in Mantralaya’s corridors are talking in hushed tones about a letter reportedly sent by a senior bureaucrat to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and two other ministers.

The senior bureaucrat has reportedly sent letters to Chavan, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and home minister RR Patil alleging how he is being given insulting treatment by top bureaucrats.

The officer has listed his grievances against a top administration boss and chief minister’s office. He was transferred thrice within a year, and was even insulted by his seniors, the letter says. So far, there are no reports of any reactions from Chavan. The CM’s aides are dismissing the entire issue saying that the bureaucrat is unhappy because he has not been given a plum posting. It is true that the bureaucrat in question is not exactly famous for an impressive track record in the administrative service.

Expenditure made on a function organised to celebrate the state’s golden jubilee by a particular department during his tenure had raised many eyebrows in Mantralaya. On another instance, a minister of his department had taken strong objection to his decision to transfer lower level officers without consulting the former. However, the episode has brought to the fore the unease within the state bureaucracy. Several officers in the state administration are not happy with the postings they have got. While they have been given less significant postings despite their seniority and experience, a handful of bureaucrats continue to get plum posts, they point out.

To make matters worse, the bureaucracy is also divided between officers loyal to Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, the two parties that are running the government in an alliance but who keep fighting with each other. Some of the officers are alleging that the chief secretary is reduced to playing a secondary role as the chief minister’s office is calling the shots in the state administration.

This particular issue will now be discussed as lobbying has begun for chief secretary’s post. The incumbent JK Banthia is retiring on June 1 but is keen to get an extension. In the race to the top post are education secretary JS Sahariya and home secretary Amitabh Rajan. Will the new chief secretary ensure that there is no discontent within the bureaucracy, and that the state government’s performance is not affected when more than a third of Maharashtra is facing drought and the infrastructure in cities like Mumbai is needed to be rebuilt fast?

Churning in the state Congress
There has been a sudden surge of behind-the-curtain activities in the state Congress. Going by what they are saying within the party, it seems the Congress top brass is keen for a reshuffle of top functionaries in the state. Apparently, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has taken interest in the state, since he wants the party to win more than 15 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra. This explains why those who are hopeful of ministerial berths or those who are eyeing state Congress chief’s job are making frequent trips to New Delhi. Looks like the Congress in Maharashtra will see some action in coming days.