HomeBureaucracyExtended tenures of chief secretaries suit political set up, chief ministers prefer...

Extended tenures of chief secretaries suit political set up, chief ministers prefer to go with trusted commanders

By Vivek Shukla

At least five states are being run by chief secretaries on extension. The latest to join the club is , who just got extension of six months as chief secretary of Uttrakhand. The other chief secretaries on extension includes – Durga Shankar Mishra from , Iqbal Singh Bains from Madhya Pradesh, Usha Sharma from Rajasthan and H K Dwivedi who also got six months extension along with Usha Sharma.

The longest tenure of extension among these five top bureaucrats is of chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Durga Shankar Mishra, who got two extensions of one year each. His tenure is scheduled to end this year.

This is rarest of the rare case in the history of bureaucracy that a chief secretary has been given two extensions — that, too, for a year each. In fact, Mishra got the first extension just three days before his scheduled retirement and was sent to his home cadre Uttar Pradesh in December 2021 to become the chief secretary replacing R K Tiwari, who had 14 more months of service left with him.

Similarly, chief secretary of another large state – Madhya Pradesh – also got two extensions. The 1985-batch IAS officer Iqbal Singh Bains, who was to retire in November 2022 got two extensions of six months each. He will now retire in November this year if no further extension is given. Though there is a likelihood that Bains gets third time lucky and remain chief secretary for another six or at least three months.

“Madhya Pradesh is going for polls in November at the time of his retirement. Since BJP is ruling in state as well as centre, there is chances that Bains retires only after conducting the elections successfully. It suits Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP government, which is looking for a repeat in the state,” said a senior Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS.

Like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan is also gearing up for elections in November this year. Its chief secretary Usha Sharma was to retire in June 2023. But at the pretext of elections, the state government got her six months extension that will end almost with the formation of new government.

“Usha Sharma is a close relative of senior Congress leader and assembly speaker CP Joshi. Also, chief Ashok Gehlot had appreciated her style of working on more than two occasions. These two factors helped her get the state government's recommendation for extension and then her own equation with senior officers of PMO did the trick. Usha Sharma has been on to from May 2012 to January 2022.
“If Congress government repeats, there are every chances that Sharma gets another extension,” said a senior bureaucrat from Rajasthan.

The chief secretary of West Bengal H K Dwivedi was also to retire on June 30, 2023. But he also got an extension of six months along with Usha Sharma.

“His extension was unexpected as political observers believed that the tussle between West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would cost the extension of Dwivedi. But central government obliged the state government by giving its nod,” said a senior bureaucrat from West Bengal.

However, former chief secretary of Punjab West Kumar Januja was not lucky. Punjab government's request for his extension was turned down.

“It seems political rivalry between AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and PM Modi more bitter than any one,” said Malkiat Singh, a political observer in Punjab.

No more extension to Odisha and Manipur chief secretaries

This year two new chief secretaries have replaced chief secretaries on extension in Manipur and Odisha. Both these former chief secretaries were on an extension of one year (two extensions of six months) each. Former chief secretary of Odisha Suresh Chandra Mahapatra was replaced by P K Jena in February 2023 while former chief secretary of Manipur Rajesh Kumar was replaced by Vineet Joshi in May 2023. The tenure of Rajesh Kumar, who got second time six-month extension from January this year, was cut short by almost a month due to emergency like situation in Manipur.

Joshi, a 1992 batch officer was on central government deputation and has worked as Additional Secretary in the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education and headed the key vertical; National Testing Agency (NTA). 

The BuckStopper Reporter
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The BuckStopper, run by a group of seasoned journalists, holds the powerful accountable. The buck stops with them, as they cannot shrug off their official responsibilities.
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