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Veenu, Subodh & Akhil continue to be front runners...

Jaipur: Even as the ‘crescendo’ around the appointment of next CS reaches a new high, ambiguity still exists around the matter as no final contender has come to light and ACS Veenu Gupta, Subodh Agarwal & Akhil Arora continue to be front runners for the top coveted post. However, there is another grapevine going on in ‘relevant bureaucratic circles’ that states that possibility of an extension to current CS Usha Sharma can not be ruled out of equation!

Notably, on Wednesday, Akhil Arora met Chief Secretary Usha Sharma and the discussion between the two lasted for about one and a half hours. Interestingly, three-four meetings have happened in the last two-three days between the duo.

The appointment of Chief Secretary in any State is purely a discretion and prerogative of the Chief Minister and seniority and merit do not play any role in this. Just like in Rajasthan, a new Chief Secretary will take over the reins of the State bureaucracy on July 1 and in Punjab, the order for appointment of new CS was issued four days back. What is notable here is that the 1993 batch IAS Anurag Verma who has been made CS, has superseded a total of eleven IAS, who are four batches senior to him! Outgoing CS, VK Janjua is a 1989 batch official while there are still six years left to Anurag Verma’s retirement. Appointment of such a junior IAS to the high post of CS has become a talking point in the entire national bureaucracy.

Likewise, in Rajasthan too there have been instances where junior IAS have been appointed as CS while superseding senior bureaucrats. TV Ramnan and Mitha Lal Mehta are examples of this.

In the current government, the live example of this is before everyone as in November 2020, Ashok Gehlot government superseded nine senior IAS and appointed Niranjan Arya as CS. According to the set tradition in state’s bureaucracy, when a junior IAS is appointed CS, all seniors ACS are given posting outside of the Secretariat. But during Niranjan Arya, this tradition was broken and IAS senior to himPawan Kumar Goyal and Subodh Agarwal, happily agreed to work under Arya in the Secretariat.

In the present case, it is not necessary for CM Gehlot to appoint a senior as CS. He too can, like Punjab, appoint his favourite officer of 1993 batch of his faith and trust as CS. In that situation, the ‘zone of consideration’ extends to Veenu Gupta, Subodh Agarwal, Shubhra Singh and Rajeshwar Singh to Abhay Kumar and Akhil Arora (1993 batch).

During the appointment of former CS, CS Rajan, the chair remained vacant for two days and the orders were issued thereafter. The order for appointment of OP Meena was issued on the last day, i.e. June 30, 2016 at 9 PM. Similarly, in April 30, 2018, the government kept waiting for extension order for CS Nihal Chand Goel and it was in his farewell programme that the order for DB Gupta’s appointment as CS was issued. In the case of DB Gupta, a rare event occurred when two months prior to his retirement, Rajeeva Swarup was suddenly appointed as CS on July 3, 2020.

Notably, among the current contenders of Chief Secretary, there are six months left to Veenu Gupta’s retirement, 30 months to Subodh Agarwal’s retirement, 12 months to Rajeshwar Singh’s, 31 months to Shubhra Singh’s, five years to Abhay Kumar’s and five and a half years to Akhil Arora’s retirement.

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