With just a week to go for chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad's retirement, the state secretariat is abuzz with speculation over who is likely to take over the top administrative job.
The state government is yet to forward a proposal for a three-month extension to Gaikwad, as chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has not made up his mind on the issue. Sources in state secretariat said that an extension proposal could be forwarded even at the last minute. However, it ideally requires at least four days to be processed from the chief minister to the Centre's Department of Personnel and Training as it requires a clearance from the Prime Minister's Office.
If Gaikwad's term is not extended, there are six additional chief secretary level officials (ACS) in the state, including JS Sahani, chairman of pollution control board; Anna Dani, ACS (general administration); JK Banthia, ACS (public health); JS Saharia, ACS (higher and technical education); Rahul Asthana, MMRDA commissioner; and ACS (urban development) TC Benjamin.
However, both Banthia and Dani from 1977 and 1976 batch respectively, will retire in June this year and hence are unlikely to be considered for the post.
In terms of seniority, Sahani from the 1976 batch is a serious contender followed by Saharia and Asthana from 1978 batch, and Benjamin from 1979 batch.
Asthana is considered as one of the stronger contenders for the post, given that he was called in by the chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to speed up working in the MMRDA. Benjamin, who has completed five years as UDD secretary is also non-controversial and has managed his high profile department quite well.