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Sajal acting status gripe lands govt in soup

Ranchi, July 30: The recent outburst of officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty against the Hemant Soren government’s failure to regularise the appointee at the state’s top administrative post has opened a can of worms for the ruling alliance, which is already battling charges of misgovernance ahead of the Assembly polls.

Several senior bureaucrats of Jharkhand agree that the state is in dire need of a regular chief secretary, whether it is Chakraborty or someone else, for the sake of good administrative functioning.

“This is not a good precedent. You cannot send a jawan to the war front without arms and ammunition. Professionally, things are not taken well and the government must act promptly to name a regular chief secretary for the state, which is already bogged down with a number of problems,” asserted a top bureaucrat on condition of anonymity.

Another IAS in-charge of an important department seconded his senior colleague.

Achhi nahi kahi ja sakti, ad hoc arrangement kabhi achha nahi hota (We cannot say whatever is happening is for the good of the state, ad hoc arrangement is never good),” said the officer.

JMM’s main alliance partner Congress also seems to have found merit in Chakraborty’s arguments.

Minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, the second-in-command in the cabinet after chief minister Hemant Soren, indicated he was in favour of “appointing a regular chief secretary”, but did not clarify whether his party would back Chakraborty’s candidature or not.

Another Congress minister Yogendra Sao was more forthright, demanding that Chakraborty be given full charge.

But there are many like the chief minister’s political adviser, Himanshu Shekhar Choudhary, who believes that Hemant should take immediate action against the acting chief secretary for voicing his gripe openly in the media.

“What the acting chief secretary did was uncalled for. Action should be taken against him,” Choudhary told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi.

Some bureaucrats agreed with Choudhary. “The communication between the chief secretary and chief minister is supposed to be confidential. I have no doubt about the talent and skill of Sajal Chakraborty as an administrator, but he has certainly gone beyond his jurisdiction this time,” said an official posted at the chief minister’s secretariat.

Chakraborty, who was named chief secretary in-charge on April 30, had claimed at a news conference last week that the state needed a regular appointee to effectively carry out bureaucratic jobs.

Besides becoming a talking point among bureaucrats and politicians, Chakraborty’s comments have handed the Opposition with a weapon to corner the JMM-Congress-RJD government with during the monsoon session of the state Assembly from August 1.

Another area of concern is the imminent Assembly polls. A team from the Election Commission recently visited Jharkhand to discuss possible poll dates and the absence of a regular chief secretary didn’t augur well for the state’s image.

At present, Jharkhand has five senior IAS officers of chief secretary rank.

They are development commissioner Sudhir Prasad, director-general of Sri Krishna Institute of Public Administration A.K. Pandey, animal husbandry department secretary Aditya Swarup, principal secretary to the governor R.S. Poddar and Chakraborty, who is senior most.