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Twin blows to IAS officers’ Delhi dreams

- Clear mandate for Modi and CM’s reluctance to release officers cloud plum posting hope

Calcutta, May 21: The clear mandate for the BJP at the Centre has come as a setback to IAS officers in Bengal, many of whom were eyeing plum postings in Delhi anticipating that Trinamul would play a key role in the formation of the government.

Now that the BJP has got the majority on its own, the chances of officers from Bengal making it to Delhi seem to have dwindled drastically, sources said.

“We were almost sure that Trinamul would play a key role in the formation of the government at the Centre. In such a situation, some officials serving in Bengal could have been sent to Delhi, but nobody knows what will happen now,” a senior IAS officer told The Telegraph.

Discussions in bureaucratic circles in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls had revolved around who could get which posting in Delhi after the change of guard.

The bureaucratic pool in Delhi usually witnesses a churning every time a new government comes to power as ministers tend to bring in officers from their home states. There is a buzz that Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi will give prominent positions in Delhi to officers from Gujarat.

“Had our chief minister played a key role in Delhi, some officers could have got good postings. Trinamul emerging as the third-largest party had seemed certain and so, IAS officers in Bengal had hoped they would get key posts in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Union finance ministry,” another officer said.

According to the rule, IAS officers from a state can get central postings in two ways — either new ministers take them along to Delhi or the state governments give clearance to them once they get empanelled to serve in the capital.

Some senior Bengal-cadre IAS officers this newspaper spoke to said they were resigned to the fact that they would have to remain in the state.

“Given the political situation in Delhi, it seems officers from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will get preference when decisions on postings in Delhi are taken as the BJP has done well in these states,” an officer said.

“Going to Delhi after being empanelled has also become impossible as the chief minister is reluctant to send officers on central deputation,” he added.

Since the Trinamul government came to power in Bengal in May 2011, only four or five officers have been sent on central deputation.

Several IAS officers who have been empanelled and are seeking berths in Delhi are apparently not getting the chief minister’s clearance.

“A stint in Delhi not only boosts the careers of officers, it also helps the state government. But the chief minister doesn’t seem to recognise this,” another officer said.

Having secretaries in Delhi from the state cadre is useful to the government in many ways, particularly in securing special funds for projects, the officer added.

Bengal has got substantial funds for health and road projects in the past three years particularly because of Bengal-cadre officers in the two Union ministries. While P.K. Pradhan was the former health secretary, Tuk Tuk Kumar is the additional secretary and financial adviser in the ministry of road, transport and highways. Pradhan has retired.

At present, Shyamal Sarkar is the only officer from the Bengal cadre to hold the post of secretary in a Union ministry. Sarkar is the secretary in the personnel, public grievances and pensions ministry.

Three additional secretaries from Bengal — Nandita Chatterjee, Tuk Tuk Kumar and A.K. Agarwal — are likely to be promoted to the rank of secretary in Delhi.

“But there will be a lull after that if Bengal does not release some of its senior officers now,” an IAS officer said.