Punjab IAS officers make a beeline for central postings
The IAS officers, who sought central postings, include 1988-batch Ravneet Kaur, 1990-batch Anirudh Tiwari, 1991-batch Seema Jain, 1992-batch KAP Sinha, 1998-batch S. Karuna Raju and 2000-batch Rahul Tewari
: Half a dozen IAS officers of the Punjab cadre are seeking central deputations, including bureaucrats who figure on the top of the seniority list, with the trend gaining momentum since the AAP government took over in the state in March.
The officers, most of who started “looking for the options” after the AAP government came to power, include 1988-batch Ravneet Kaur, 1990-batch Anirudh Tiwari, 1991-batch Seema Jain, 1992-batch KAP Sinha, 1998-batch S. Karuna Raju and 2000-batch Rahul Tewari.
Ravneet and Anirudh are in the rank of special chief secretary in the state and will be posted on secretary ranks in the Centre; Seema and Sinha are on additional chief secretary ranks in Punjab, and will get postings as additional chief secretary while on the central deputation.
Rahul and Raju, who are serving in the state on secretary level ranks, will get joint secretary rank posts when they move to the Centre.
Anirudh was posted at the top bureaucratic post as chief secretary in the state in September 2021, superseding five officers senior to him, when Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the chief minister of the state.
He continued on the post when Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government came to power in the state but seemed to have suddenly lost favour with the government when he was transferred from the top post to make way for 1989-batch VK Janjua on July 5.
“I was empanelled for central deputation last year. When I was relieved of the top post in Punjab, I opted to avail the option (in the Centre),” said Anirudh.
Ravneet at present is the senior-most bureaucrat in the state, as per the Centre’s seniority list after 1985-batch Arun Goel, who is posted as secretary heavy industries and public enterprises with the Union government and 1987-batch Vini Mahajan, who is also on central deputation as secretary, drinking water and sanitation department.
Ravneet, who joined back in Punjab in 2019, had remained on central deputation as head of Indian tourism development corporation (ITDC). She missed elevation to the top post on two occasions and her name was in the reckoning during Channi’s regime. Kaur was not available for comments.
Chief secretary, Punjab, VK Janjua termed it as a routine exercise.
“There is nothing new in it. Officers keep coming and going on central deputations. Even I had a close to three years stint in government of India,” he said.
According to sources in the state’s personal department, four officers- Ravneet, Anirudh, Seema and Rahul have been given clearance by the state government for central deputation after their names figured in the panel for central posting. They are awaiting postings now and it may take six months or even more, said a source in the personal department.
Sinha got the posting two months ago as secretary, national disaster management authority but the Punjab government refused to let him go as he is holding a key position of principal secretary, finance in the state. Meanwhile, Sinha was transferred from the said post and the Centre also sought clarity on his joining, otherwise he would be debarred from central deputation. Reportedly, the state government has again taken up with the Centre for Sinha to be posted on the same position.
According to Rahul, he had sought deputation last year and was awaiting posting. Similarly, Raju applied for deputation last month. Reportedly, he is keen to be posted in his home state Andhra Pradesh.
According to former bureaucrat KR Lakhanpal, it is good that more officers from the state are opting for central deputation as the state has historically been underrepresented.
“But the grace needs to be maintained in dealing with the officers so that they don’t have the feeling of being downgraded. In my opinion, in that case, they would not feel like doing good for the state while in the Centre,” he added.
Lakhanpal, who remained chief secretary Punjab from 2007-09, said such matters need to be handled delicately and diligently.
Other Punjab officers on central deputation:
Apart from Arun Goel and Vini Mahajan, other officers from Punjab who are on central deputation are Anjali Bawra, VK Singh, Alok Shekhar, RK Verma, Bhawna Garg, Shruti Singh, Kavita Singh, Priyank Bharti and Basant Garg.