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Search for next CS ends at these officers?

Jaipur: As the date of June 30 is nearing with each passing day, the entire state buraucracy’s excitement is increasing to find out as to who will be the new Chief Secretary that will take over on July 1. After spending 18 months at helm of the state’s bureaucracy, Usha Sharma’s innings, as Chief Secretary, will culminate on June 30.

According to the seniority in the civil list of IAS, the hierarchy is listed herewith: Veenu Gupta (1987 batch), Subodh Agarwal (1988 batch), Shubhra Singh (1989 batch), Rajeshwar Singh (1989 batch), Abhay Kumar (1992 batch) and Akhil Arora (1993 batch) i.e. half a dozen officers of five batches.

If seniority is given preference in the selection of next CS, then Veenu Gupta’s claim is the biggest to the post. But seniority plays little role in the appointment of CS and in the past, this aspect has been overlooked several times. As regards hard work and capability, Veenu Gupta is at par with all other officials and additionally, apart from being a woman, she is a non-controversial official, which is a ‘plus-point’ for her.

However, the negative point for her could be that her husband DB Gupta has been the Chief Secretary in the current government itself and there are still six months left to Veenu’s retirement. In the last IAS transfer list, Veenu Gupta was given the responsibility of a major department like Mines. In the previous meeting chaired by CM Ashok Gehlot on budget announcement, the CM had reportedly asked Veenu Gupta to curb illegal mining any how. Those in the know how of bureaucracy claim that this is an indication that Gupta will not be changed from the position.

The number two in seniority - Subodh Agarwal - still has two and a half years left to his retirement. Becoming CS right now, means a long innings and in the current situation, it seems improbable and if he will be continued by the new government that will come to power after six months, is also uncertain. Subodh is a ‘hard task master’ and a ‘result- oriented officer,’ who has all the capabilities needed for becoming a CS.

The manner in which suddenly Shubhra Singh has been brought to Jaipur from Delhi, has given rise to the speculation if she would be crowned the next CS. Otherwise, her ‘air-dropping’ is beyond comprehension. But the biggest minus point in her situation is that she has returned to Jaipur after a gap of 13 years and she is completely in the dark regarding the state government’s policies and their implementation on the ground and the changes in bureaucracy over the past 13 years. Thus, handing over the reins of bureaucracy in the last six months of the government, which are the utmost crucial months, is considered to be an immense risk taking manoeuvre. It is also being said that merely being a senior woman officer is not enough.

The 1989 batch officer Rajeshwar Singh is not considered to be one of the blue-eyed officers of the state government and he has been positioned in Ajmer for the past two years and sources reveal that his chances of becoming the next CS are absolutely ‘dim’.

The fifth official in seniority is Abhay Kumar, whose image is that of a ‘silent worker,’ a noncontroversial officer, who finds a large acceptance in bureaucracy. He has held the reins of important departments like Finance and Home, and while serving as ACS Home, he has come across as a ‘trusted officer’ of the state government. It is being speculated that since in the May 1 transfer list he was not changed, so he may be ‘changed’ now!

Akhil Arora is current CM Ashok Gehlot’s most trusted and close bureaucrat. He has a huge role in the state government’s work and word is that not even a leaf can move without his advice or suggestion in the government and his position, as is being visualised by others, is not less than that of CS. And if CM Gehlot brings him to the helm, it should not come as a surprise!

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