By Ram Kumar Kaushik
It's official now, the next general elections in 2024 will be administratively monitored by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba. He gets third time extension to remain on the post till August 2024. Gauba was due to retire this month.
The Appointments continued Committee of the Cabinet (ACC, on August 3, 2023, made changes and relaxed AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958, and Rule 56(d) of the Fundamental Rules to allow tenures exceeding four years.
Gauba, a 1982 batch Jharkhand cadre IAS was first appointed cabinet secretary on August 30, 2019 for two years after superannuation of P K Sinha. Since then Gauba has been continuing on his post getting two extensions of one each each is 2021 and 2022. Now with yet another extension Gauba, on completion of his term, will become the longest-serving cabinet secretary ever. BD Pande holds the record for being longest-serving Cabinet Secretary — from November 2, 1972, to March 31, 1977.
Government tweaked service rules to give extension
As expected in the bureaucratic quarters after the Supreme Court's permission for continuing S K Mishra as ED director in larger public interest of till September 15, 2023, it was almost confirmed government will extend the term of Gauba specially when the next general elections are round the corner.
“Supreme Court had directed government to replace ED director till July 31,2023. Hence government moved the apex court and got his extension till September 15. For Gauba, it changes the rules to facilitate his extension,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Architect behind abrogation of Article 370
Before getting appointed as cabinet secretary, Gauba was union home minister and his considered as the main architect of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which led to the division of the erstwhile state into two UTs — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh — following the abrogation of Article 370, which accorded a special status accorded to it.
“No wonder why Gauba is a ‘must have' bureaucrat in Modi's line up. His strength lies in making strategies and then devising model for their implementation at last mile. That is the reason why Modi didn't want to give away ‘one of his ratnas' of his durbar ahead of crucial 2024 elections,” said another senior bureaucrat.
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