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Shah joins race to fill Pande shoes

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Information technology secretary Rajeev Ratan Shah is the latest name in the long list of officers hoping to step into Union home secretary Kamal Pande’s shoes.

Pande remits office on October 15 and his replacement is expected to be named before he takes over his temporary assignment as officer on special duty before assuming charge as Cabinet secretary on November 1.

Shah, a 1967 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre officer, is said to be close to IT minister Pramod Mahajan. He had earlier worked as additional secretary and CEO of Prasar Bharati when Mahajan was information and broadcasting minister.

Shah has also served as chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, which some believe would strengthen his bid for the post of home secretary.

But senior bureaucrats feel Shah’s proximity to Mahajan could work against him. Others believe he could come out a winner given Mahajan’s move to renew his ties with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

Shah was close to former Cabinet secretary Prabhat Kumar, who made it possible for him to appear in the panel for secretaries. As a dynamic officer who occasionally overstepped his brief, Shah had ruffled a few feathers among a powerful section of bureaucrats.

Fertiliser secretary Nripendra Mishra, Shah’s batch-mate, is also in the race. Mishra was a close confidant of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav but later became principal secretary to Kalyan Singh, when he was chief minister. However, Mishra had to go because he was disliked by a section of the RSS. Commerce secretary Dipak Chatterjee and coal secretary Nishi Kant Sinha are also in the running.

According to the rumour mills, culture secretary N. Gopalaswami is a strong contender. But Advani is not expected to take a decision till Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee returns from the United States.

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