Dilip Cherian | Longer tenures for senior babus soon

Columnist  | Dilip Cherian

Opinion, Columnists

Modi government prepares for a significant bureaucratic reshuffle

With a focus on stability and effective governance, Modi government extends tenures for IAS officers while a wave of reshuffling looms large in Punjab and Maharashtra.

Almost 60 per cent of empanelled IAS officers just got the nod as secretaries and equivalents, and most of them are getting a five-year stint. This is Modi Sarkar’s way of providing long tenures to high-ranking officials so that they can really sink their teeth into their roles.

Usually, the defence and home secretaries get a measly two-year stint, which isn’t enough time to make some real moves. But for the rest, it’s been a mixed bag. Some babus often grumble about how short stints impede when it comes to making big decisions and getting things done.

Sources have informed DKB that from the latest group of empanelled officers from the 1993 batch, 12 out of 200 of them are in for the long haul, with more than five years on the clock. Even from among the preceding batch of 1992, five IAS officers out of 20 are looking at a five-year tenure.

The word is that we might see a major babu reshuffle in June-July once the new government settles into the driver’s seat. Consequently, many of the recently empanelled officers are likely to be reassigned to new postings soon.

Former secretaries have offered insights into this evolving trend, noting that the traditional three-year tenure for secretaries was once considered sufficient. However, circumstances and administrative imperatives have prompted a shift towards longer tenures to facilitate effective governance.Two years after PM’s security breach, Punjab goes after senior cops

Two years ago, in January 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy was stranded on a flyover for half an hour when he was travelling in Punjab due to a crowd of 300 protestors who had blocked the flyover. The security breach had sparked a political controversy. At the time state government was led by Congress chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi. The inquiry conducted by the Indu Malhotra committee later recommended significant disciplinary action against three senior officers for the security breach.

Now, the Punjab government of Bhagwant Mann has decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the cops. The officers in the dock include former director general of police (DGP) Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, the then Faridkot DIG Inderbir Singh and former Ferozepur SSP, Harmanbir Singh Hans. While Mr Chattopadhyaya has since retired and could be off the hook, Mr Mann intends to proceed against the other two, both of whom will be allowed to present their responses.

According to directives from the Supreme Court, which appointed the investigative committee, Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has requested Punjab to furnish an action-taken report. Those in the know say that the implicated officers may be looking at anything from a slap on the wrist to dismissal from service. Talk about a rollercoaster ride from security slip-up to political uproar, it’s never a dull moment in Punjab!From Mumbai to Pune, Maharashtra’s babu reshuffle unfolds

Big changes are going down in Maharashtra’s babu corridors as the nation braces itself for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In a decisive move, the state government recently executed a massive babu overhaul, reassigning 12 IAS officers to new roles. Notable among them is the transfer of Rajesh Kumar, a senior 1988-batch officer, from additional chief secretary of cooperation and marketing to the pivotal position of additional chief secretary of revenue. Meanwhile, O.P. Gupta steps into the role of overseeing finance, filling a vacancy left by Nitin Kareer’s ascent to chief secretary.

Sanjay Sethi, returning from his tenure as chairman of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, takes the reins as additional chief secretary of transport, displacing Parrag Jaiin Nainutia, who has moved to the Information Technology Department. Then there is Vijay Singhal, who is now steering the ship at CIDCO and Milind Shambharkar taking charge at Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board.

This reshuffle extends beyond Mumbai, with Kavita Dwivedi’s transfer from Commissioner of Akola Municipal Corporation to Additional Divisional Commissioner of Pune division.

Amidst these transitions, given that it’s rather crowded at the top with chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, everyone’s trying to guess who’s pulling the strings behind this shake-up.

Those in the know informed DKB that the Election Commission’s three-year transfer policy is also a major factor prompting the state government’s action. The EC, reportedly, wants officers posted for more than three years shifted out.

Consequently, a major reshuffle is expected in the powerful Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), with the fate of heavy hitters like BMC’s Commissioner I.S. Chahal and Pune Municipal Corporation’s Vikram Kumar hanging in the balance. Expect more changes in the days ahead.