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Read between the lines! PM Modi’s trusted lieutenant abruptly shifts from North Block to Mussoorie’s LBSNAA

New Delhi: Living up to the expectation of all and sundry, the Modi administration on August 23 surprised the bureaucracy yet again as ‘Unpredictability’ and ‘element of surprise’ have been its hallmark.

Seven good years have gone by and it’s an open secret now that even those who are in the thick of things knows very little about such decisions. 

The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on August 23 abruptly shifted Katikithala Srinivas from North Block to Mussoorie. The 1989 batch IAS officer of Gujarat Cadre working as the Establishment Officer (EO) will now head the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie which is seen as a low key assignment though it has its own charm to head the premier institution.  

It may be underlined that the EO, under the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), functions as the Secretary to the ACC and facilitates all the top appointments and empanelment at Centre that makes him the most powerful post at the rank of Additional Secretary. 

Sriniwas’ abrupt appointment invited many interpretations. At the face of it, people in the power corridors thought that Sriniwas was side-lined as he would have fell out of sync. Some believed that he was moved from the North Block to Mussoorie as PM’s messenger to the academy to give his Mission Karmayogi a further push.

A section of civil servants considered it as a stern message that if officer like Sriniwas could be shifted abruptly to an unexpected zone then others should think of themselves. Interestingly many theories were floated yet none defines Sriniwas’ movement convincingly.

When Deepak Khandekar, a 1985 batch MP cadre IAS, was in January 2021 drafted as DoPT Secretary merely seven months ahead of his scheduled retirement people assumed that later Sriniwas succeed as DoPT Secretary after Khandekar retires in August 2021 but that is ruled out now. 

About Sriniwas it is an open secret that the PM always entrusted him with key assignments be it the responsibility of setting up the world’s tallest ‘Statue of Unity’ at Kewadia which he accomplished in a record time with grace or be it the key responsibility of Joint Secretary DOPT and later as Establishment Officer. 

But the abrupt shifting of the blue-eyed officer from an Additional Secretary rank post (EO) to another additional Secretary rank post (Director LBSNAA) still remains undeciphered. What plans the government has with him for Sriniwas, only time will tell.

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