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Bureaucrats find way out after CM change

- Six senior officers apply for central deputation, politicians eye ministerial berths

Patna, May 25: The change in guard in Bihar has prompted some bureaucrats to find a way out of the state, while few politicians are busy lobbying for ministerial berths in the Jitan Ram Manjhi-led government.

About six senior bureaucrats are trying to make a move from the state. Principal secretary of health Deepak Kumar, who holds the additional charge of OSD (officer on special duty) in the chief minister’s secretariat, has been empanelled in the central list of probables for the post of chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI).

“He has been empanelled for the post after an advertisement in this regard was issued by the Centre. As he has an engineering degree and a postgraduate degree in management and system from IIT Delhi, his selection chances are very bright for the top post of AAI,” a senior state government official told The Telegraph today requesting anonymity.

The state government had relieved Kumar in January 2013 for a central deputation but he returned in August 2013 itself. Former chief minister Nitish Kumar was instrumental in getting him back to the state within seven months, said a source. With Nitish having demitted the chief minister’s office, said the source, Kumar’s decision to apply for the AAI’s top post was not a surprise for many in the bureaucratic circle.

Several other senior officers, including principal secretary of the industries department, Navin Verma, chairman of Bihar State Staff Selection Commission JRK Rao, agriculture principal secretary Vivek Kumar Singh, Gaya divisional commissioner R.K. Khandelwal, road construction secretary Pratyaya Amrit and social welfare secretary Rajit Punhani have also applied for central deputation.

None of the officers was willing to speak on the issue for obvious reasons but sources in the state government said uncertainty in their mind over the work culture in the new dispensation triggered their move to find a way out.

“With the RJD supporting the government and talks of anti-BJP parties joining hands in the state doing rounds in the corridors of the secretariat, several bureaucrats are more than willing to go on central deputation sensing that the style of functioning of the government till the recent past might change for worse in a fluid political situation,” a senior state government official said.

He, however, clarified that this could be one of the possible reasons and should not be generalised given the fact that IAS officers do go on central deputation as part of their job. “There are many Bihar cadre officers on central deputation even now and they had gone there when Nitish was at the helm of affairs and the NDA government was functioning smoothly in the state,” added the official.

When most bureaucrats are busy chalking out their future course of action, the political circle is agog with talks of likely changes in the Jitan Ram Manjhi government during the cabinet expansion likely to take place before June 10. “Three turncoats from the RJD and two from the BJP, who would now be members of the Legislative Council, are all set to get ministerial berths,” a senior minister in the Manjhi government told The Telegraph. “The JD(U) leaders like Lalan Singh, Lalan Saraf and Ranvir Nandan too are likely to become ministers.”

Samrat Choudhary, Javed Iqbal, Ramlakhan Ram Raman quit the RJD ahead of the confidence vote of the Manjhi government. So did Vijay Kumar Mishra and Rana Gangeshwar of the BJP. All the five, sources said, have been made MLCs as their names figured in the list of 12 persons to be nominated to the Upper House.

“The list also had names of Lalan Singh, Lalan Saraf, Ranvir Nandan, Sanjay Gandhi, Ram Vachan Rai, Shivprasanna Yadav and Ram Chandra Bharti. Raj Bhavan has given consent to the list,” added the source.

Another minister in the Manjhi government confided that apart from expansion, change in portfolios of the existing ministers was also possible. “The final call regarding allocation of portfolios to the new incumbents and changes in the portfolio of the existing ministers would be jointly taken by Nitishji and the chief minister,” said the minister.