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With bureaucratic rejig, Trivendra Rawat asserts that he’s the boss

Relocation of five IAS officers, just a day after former chief secretary S Ramaswamy’s unceremonious exit, is being seen as chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s clear message to the bureaucracy to perform or perish

dehradun Updated: Oct 26, 2017 19:03 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Bureacratic reshuffle,Trivendra Singh Rawat,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Through the reshuffle, experts feel, Trivendra Rawat has sought to give a subtle message to his ministers that it “is he who calls the shots.”(HT File)

The relocation of five IAS officers on Wednesday, just a day after former chief secretary S Ramaswamy’s unceremonious exit, is being seen as chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s clear message to the bureaucracy to deliver or perish.

Analysts feel the move to replace Ramaswamy was taken under pressure from the Centre in view of the slow delivery and the Lok Sabha polls due in 2019.

Incidentally, the top-level bureaucratic rejig followed by the relocation of the five IAS officers came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kedarnath on October 20. Through his swift move, Rawat has sought to leave the babus in no doubt that he is the boss. The message is loud and clear by the way he reallocated portfolios of these bureaucrats even before new chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh got time to find his feet.

Through this move, Rawat sought to give a subtle message to his ministers that it “is he who calls the shots.” It is clear from the way secretary R Meenakshi Sundram was divested of tourism portfolio. Sundram is said to be close to tourism minister Satpal Maharaj.

Analysts are unanimous that Rawat replaced Ramaswamy under pressure from the Modi government. “He was replaced under pressure from the Centre,” Prof MM Semwal of HNB Garhwal (Central) University said. According to him, the general impression is that Ramaswamy couldn’t ensure faster implementation of the central schemes.

“That is the last thing the Centre can afford in view of the Lok Sabha elections, for which only a little more than a year is left,” Semwal said.He agreed that Singh was brought in because he “is familiar with the state and its unique problems as he had served here in different capacities”.

“The change of guard happened as the BJP central leadership did not want to lose the state from where it won all the five parliamentary seats in the last general elections,” Semwal said. “This is why the Rawat government is under close scrutiny of the Centre as well as the party’s organisational wing.”

In that connection, BJP chief Amit Shah visited Dehradun last month. Shah had expressed displeasure over the functioning of the party’s state unit and informally met Rawat and his ministers to scrutinise the BJP government’s performance.

Semwal feels Rawat by effecting the top level bureaucratic rejig tried to dispel the impression that he couldn’t be tough on babus. He, however, cautions that such moves won’t cut ice with the people until development is seen on the ground. “The taste of pudding is in eating,” says Semwal. “So, unless things start moving in terms of delivery, I don’t think the ruling party stands to get much electoral dividends in the next general elections.”

Prof LM Joshi of Kumaon University agrees but dubs Rawat’s move to rein in the bureaucracy as a good sign. “The way he had the bureaucracy reshuffled at the top level will give a clear message to other babus that they too will be shunted out if they failto deliver.”

Joshi says Rawat can easily walk the talk owing to the massive mandate the BJP got in the assembly polls.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 19:03 IST