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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Who will succeed Rakesh Singh if he cuts short term as chief secy?

Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 28, 2014
First Published: 10:38 IST(28/5/2014) | Last Updated: 10:41 IST(28/5/2014)

Who will succeed Rakesh Singh as the Punjab chief secretary? That’s what is being watched and debated upon keenly in administrative and political circles amid a strong speculation that Rakesh Singh might get a plum post in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and cut short his innings in the state.

After retaining power in the state, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had handpicked the 1978-batch IAS officer, who was then on central deputation, for the post of CS. He will superannuate in September 2015.

While Rakesh Singh hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur, his parents lived in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency.

Though Rakesh Singh’s ambition of going back to the Centre is well known, what gave a push to reports of him going to the Centre sooner or later is his recent meetings with BJP president Rajnath Singh in the run-up to the latter becoming the union home minister.

It is understood that the CS is eyeing the post of union home secretary or an equally important assignment in the union finance ministry.

The major hurdle before the IAS officer is the fact that the post of union home secretary is a fixed-tenure post.

The incumbent holds this post for a fixed period of two years or till the age of 60 years, whichever is later.

Union home secretary Anil Goswami’s two-year term will end next year. However, having spent more than a decade on central deputation and in the union finance ministry, the CS is perceived to be well-connected not only in the North and South Blocks but also enjoys good rapport with President Pranab Mukherjee.

It is in this backdrop that bureaucratic and political circles are agog with reports of a possible change of guard.

The second seniormost IAS officer in Punjab, Sujata Dass (1978 batch), is out of the reckoning because of her track record. Kusumjit Sidhu (1979 batch) is already a secretary-rank officer in the central government.

The next in the hierarchy is the controversial Himmat Singh (1980 batch). Another IAS officer, Anjuly Chib Duggal (1981 batch), who is also on central deputation, is said to be uninterested in coming back to Punjab.

Probably, if the Badal administration follows the seniority as the criterion for the top post, Sarvesh Kaushal (1982 batch), known for his hands-on approach and competency, could be in the race. Kaushal, who will superannuate in August 2018, is currently principal secretary (irrigation).

But 1983-batch officers Navreet Singh Kang, financial commissioner (revenue), and Suresh Kumar, financial commissioner (development), will be the hot contenders for the top post as and when it falls vacant.

Both officers are perceived to be close to the powers that be because of their efficiency. While Kang retires in April 2018, Kumar is in service till April 2016. It is understood that, as of now, the next Punjab CS could be from the 1983 batch, a senior government functionary pointed out.

MAJOR SHAKE-UP SOON
A major bureaucratic reshuffle is also on the cards. The immediate task before the state gover nment is to zero in on the next home secretary as the incumbent, Sarwan Singh Channy (1982 batch), is set to superannuate on May 31.

Channy also holds the portfolio of principal secretary, cultural affairs, NRI and in addition principal secretary (transport).

A major shake-up is likely in the police also. A meeting between deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the home minister, and Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini has already taken place recently in New Delhi.

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