Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Monday Mirchi : Swansong from office

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One may have an illustrious career, but nobody knows how even such an official’s swansong will ultimately pan out. With just one month of extended service left for Andhra Pradesh’s incumbent Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma, the buzz in official circles is around whether his swansong will be from office. Amid health issues, Sameer has been taking rest. The 1985 batch IAS officer was given two six-month extensions, the latest one ending on December 1. Sharma has been admitted to a private hospital in Hyderabad, where he is undergoing treatment for a cardiac ailment. A little bird told us that he would be joining duty on Tuesday or Wednesday. Sharma is the fourth Chief Secretary of the state after YS Jagan Mohan Reddy took over as the Chief Minister.

Officiating CS, or is there more to it?

At a time when the buzz is around who is going to be the next Chief Secretary, everybody is surprised to see Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s choice for the officiating Chief Secretary position. The appointment of K Vijayanand as in-charge Chief Secretary has caused consternation among bureaucratic circles. Vijayanand is currently the Special Chief Secretary (Energy). His elevation of sorts comes at time when the race for the CS post is on, with Poonam Malakondaiah and Neerabh Kumar Prasad perceived to be front-runners. Still, an official junior to them has got CS in-charge post. The appointment mirrors the confidence that the Chief Minister seems to have in Vijayanand.

Home, sweet home

Call it a case of “All’s well that ends well” or of “Home, sweet home”, Praveen Prakash has had the last laugh. Having tried his luck in various government and non-government positions, he has managed to win back the confidence of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. There is prakash once gain in his life! Praveen Prakash has been posted as Principal Secretary, Department of Transport, Roads and Buildings. Bureaucratic circles are discussing how Praveen Prakash has grown to be a baazigar, with the maxim ‘Haar kar jeetne waleko hi baazigar kehte hai’ ringing true.

For newbies, Prakash was sent to Delhi as Resident Commissioner after an internal investigation by CM Jagan . However, Prakash was like fish out of water in Delhi and elsewhere. For that matter, he had considered entering even a private company!

Drawing a parallel between Vikas and Rajat

All eyes are on Munugode as if what is at stake is a referendum or a matter of life and death. Amidst this, one thing that is being widely discussed is the role of Chief Electoral Officer Vikas Raj. The row over allotment of election symbols and the transfer of the Returning Officer for unilaterally changing the symbol allotted to a candidate of a registered party is being widely discussed. A little bird told us that the problem was caused mainly by the delay on the part of CEO Vikas Raj to give instructions to the RO, though ultimately the RO had to face the music. Whatever it is, the delay seems to have helped TRS. Parallels are being drawn on how the CEO is working efficiently, like the previous incumbent Rajat Kumar. Nonetheless, Vikas Raj, who has held plum posts like CM Secretary, has recommended strict action against the RO. He also suspended Choutuppal mandal revenue officer for altering the election symbols in the Mugugode constituency.

Oppose pressure openly,bring pressure silently

In the Munugode by-election the ‘match’ seems to have begun with the fall of the ‘official’ wicket. Of late officials have been bending over backwards to please their political masters during elections. In the past, the Election Commission has transferred even Chief Secretaries, Directors-General of Police, and other top level bureaucrats for proven irregularities.This is understandable because some of the bureaucrats are not taking elections seriously and have no qualms about violating rules.On the directions of the Election Commission, the Chief Electoral Officer suspended the Returning Officer for the Munugode bypoll for changing the symbol allotted to a candidate. Telangana Rashtra Samiti working president and IT Minister KT Rama Rao has taken objection to it. He has alleged that the Election Commission is working as per the diktat of the BJP’s national leadership.

The BJP says that the Returning Officer in question changed the allotted symbol due to pressure brought by the ruling party. Given the allegations traded, it appears that some bureaucrats working in the state are under pressure from TRS, while those on central panel are working under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power at the Centre.

All told, during general polls or by-polls; political parties demand free and fair elections; yet, they make it a point to oppose pressure on officials openly, while bringing pressure on babus silently.

-Yours truly

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