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Cleared by Cabinet, reshuffle of top bureaucrats shelved hours later

PDP-BJP Ministers shell-shocked to see key agenda ‘missing’

Neeraj Rohmetra

Jammu, Feb 14: In a bizarre development, the entire proposal of reshuffle in top bureaucracy of the State was shelved within hours after being cleared by the State Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Top official sources told EXCELSIOR, “while the State Cabinet had put its seal over major reshuffle in Civil and Police administration, formal orders of the latter part could only be issued at 12.30 am, after obtaining clearance from the Chief Minister, who heads the Home Department”, adding, “the proposal for reshuffle of the top bureaucrats, which had blessings of several Cabinet Ministers, couldn’t see the light of the day despite having clearance”.
Though most of the Cabinet Ministers are tight lipped over the actual proposal, sources in the coalition confirmed, “as per the actual proposal, the Chief Minister had given her consent for transfer of bureaucrats, who had been demanded by the respective Cabinet Ministers and after the culmination of Cabinet meeting at 8.30 pm, these Ministers even congratulated the IAS officials about their new postings and news spread like wild-fire on social media”.
Official sources, who were privy to the development, said, “as per the actual proposal Sanjeev Verma, Commissioner/ Secretary PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control was to be posted as Divisional Commissioner, Jammu replacing Pawan Kotwal, who was to join as Commissioner/ Secretary Health and Medical Education Department. Mandeep Bhandari, who is presently Commissioner / Secretary Health and Medical Education Department was to be posted as Commissioner/ Secretary PWD in place of Rohit Kansal as the latter was supposed to join as Principal Secretary to Governor, N N Vohra”.
“The entire proposal was discussed threadbare in the Cabinet meeting which lasted for nearly three hours and the Cabinet Ministers were happy with the outcome of the meeting as some of them had been lobbying since several months to get these officials posted with them”, sources emphasised.
However, most of the Ministers of the PDP-BJP coalition, whom EXCELSIOR contacted for comments, were shell-shocked to see that the reshuffle proposal failed to see light of the day. “Most of the Ministers claimed that the proposal had the blessings of Cabinet and shelving the same meant undermining the authority of the Cabinet. Several Ministers also took up the issue with the Chief Minister today morning, who assured to give them their choicest officials in due course”, sources remarked.
When asked about the reason for shelving yesterday’s proposal, sources remarked, “the proposal couldn’t mature as State Government was reluctant to relieve Commissioner/ Secretary PWD, Rohit Kansal as Principal Secretary to Governor. Besides, Rohit Kansal is also keen to go on Central deputation and State Government is not ready to give due permission for the same. As such, the chain for transfer of senior IAS officials couldn’t be completed.”
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti also called on the Governor N N Vohra today to convey him about the inability of State Government to relieve the senior bureaucrat. “Both also discussed in details the problem being faced by the State Government in view of several senior IAS officials proceeding on Central deputation and the Chief Minister even sought the intervention of Governor to convey the same to the Centre”, sources in the Raj Bhawan said.
It is pertinent to mention here that Principal Secretary to Governor, P K Tripathi along with three other senior officials has proceeded on Central deputation and the State Government hasn’t provided any substitute to him for the past one week. “Though Raj Bhavan had given a panel of three officials, who could be posted as Principal Secretary, the ultimate choice fell on Rohit Kansal”, sources asserted.
Sources also commented, “as per the original Cabinet agenda, M Raju, Special Secretary Finance Department was to be posted as Deputy Commissioner, Jammu. But, this proposal also got scuttled as Finance Ministry refused to spare the official as the current financial year (2016-17) was coming to end and several pending issues had to be sorted out”.
“The decision for reshuffle of top bureaucrats has also been delayed in view of the fact that  Centre has cleared repatriation of several senior bureaucrats to the State including KB Aggarwal, Additional Secretary in Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Arun Kumar Mehta, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change, Atal Dulloo, Joint Secretary in the Department of Rural Development and Umang Narula, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Tourism Development Corporation”, sources said, “since they are likely to be given top postings, the State Government thought it appropriate to disturb the top brass only on their return”.
“The issue came up late night yesterday, when the Chief Minister summoned Chief Secretary, B R Sharma to her official residence at around 9.30 pm after the Cabinet meeting and the message was also conveyed to the BJP top leadership”, sources said.
However, most of the Cabinet Ministers of the PDP-BJP Coalition weren’t aware of these late night developments and were shell-shocked to see that the actual proposal didn’t find any mention in the newspaper headlines.

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