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Reshuffle in bureaucracy soon

mumbai Updated: Nov 28, 2009 01:57 IST
HT Correspondent

Chandra Iyengar, J P Dange or Ratnakar Gaikwad?

These are the names doing the rounds as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan comes close to deciding who the next chief secretary of Maharashtra will be.

Present Chief Secretary Johny Joseph retires on November 30 and Chavan has only a couple of days to make his choice.

Chavan who took over on November 7 will have to pick officers for three key posts: chief secretary, Mumbai’s municipal commissioner and the state police chief. The last two posts have been vacant for about a month. The frontrunners for the chief secretary’s post are Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar, Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) J P Dange and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) Metroplitan Commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad.

A section of Congress ministers was rooting for Gaikwad who has been handling MMRDA projects in Mumbai for a while. Gaikwad, however, is junior to nine Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers.

The state government is being cautious about the issue of seniority while deciding on the chief secretary. Recently, the Supreme Court forced the government to shift then state police chief A N Roy and appoint a seniormost officer to that post. S S Virk was subsequently appointed to that post. Virk retired on October 31.

“The chief minister is not keen on Dange who is the seniormost,” said a senior Congress minister who did not wish to speak on record. “Chavan wants an officer with good track record who will execute his ideas effectively.”

Iyengar, who drafted India’s first women’s policy that provided 33 per cent reservation for women in local self-government bodies, is a strong contender for the post. Relief and rehabilitation secretary M Ramesh Kumar, too, is an aspirant.

For the post of the civic chief, Chavan is considering Gaikwad, principal secretary to chief minister, Swadheen Kshatriya and Uttam Khobragade, general manager, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking.

The Congress’ Mumbai unit prefers Gaikwad or Khobragade—both Maharashtrian and scheduled caste officers. “It would send a good message to various sections of the society if we pick either of them. Both have a good track record,” said a senior city Congress functionary.

Chavan’s toughest task will be picking the next director general of police (DGP). Chavan would have preferred former Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor but the controversy over the latter’s interview criticizing some senior police officers has marred his chances. Another contender, A N Roy, is also in trouble due to an apex court order to file a first information report against him in a case.

Sources say Chavan may wait until the Supreme Court decides on Virk’s petition that he be been given a fixed tenure of two years. Virk was DGP for eight months.