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Wanted: full-time Delhi envoy

New Delhi, June 29: Jharkhand Bhavan in New Delhi is waiting for months for the Hemant Soren-led government to appoint a full-time resident commissioner for the state in the national capital, but the ruling coalition seems too preoccupied to do so.

After Vimal Kirti Singh quit the IAS early this year to pursue his political interests, the charge has been given to additional resident commissioner Sanjay Kumar, an Indian Forest Service official.

In bureaucratic parlance, “additional” frequently translates to “afterthought”.

So, sources naturally say that giving someone additional charge of such an important post — the resident commissioner of each state liaisons with Union ministers — shows up both bureaucratic staff crunch and political slackness.

“Many crucial meetings go without proper state representation,” a senior official pointed out, implying that it contributes to Jharkhand being ignored or treated as a lightweight at a time when a new government at the Centre is busy trying to find out what each state needs.

“Even (Vimal Kirti) Singh had the double charge of state energy secretary and resident commissioner. He spent more time in Ranchi than in Delhi. Therefore, the assignment of acting as a full-time bridge between Jharkhand government and Centre has been on a back-burner for a long time. And obviously, it has hurt the state badly,” said the bureaucrat.

The trend seems likely to continue.

As Sanjay Kumar’s specialities lie in forest and environment issues, his additional charge of resident commissioner often translates to many crucial executive and administrative responsibilities being relegated to junior officials.

Last Thursday, for example, during the national-level meet of state ministers, while Jharkhand’s labour and rural development minister K.N. Tripathi could not turn up for the important conference, in the absence of additional resident commissioner Kumar, the state was represented by a junior official.

On Ranchi’s radar, there are names such as U.P. Singh, S.K.G. Rahate and M.S. Bhatia — all Jharkhand cadre IAS officers on central deputation — as contenders for the post of resident commissioner.

U.P. Singh is currently posted as chief executive officer of Khadi Village Industries Corporation, while Rahate, who has earlier served as additional resident commissioner is right now with the Union labour ministry as financial commissioner, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation.

Bhatia, on the, other hand is with the finance commission.

But the names have been doing the rounds for last three-four months.

“The state government seems to be unable to make up its mind. The crucial appointment is pending at a crucial juncture,” the Delhi-based bureaucrat said.