The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Munda shuffles mandarins

Ranchi, Nov. 1: Laxmi Singh, a 1970 batch IAS officer, has replaced A.K. Mishra as the chief secretary of the state.

Chief minister Arjun Munda notified the appointment of Laxmi Singh before leaving for New Delhi today. Mishra will take up Laxmi Singh’s posting as member, board of revenue.

Late last evening, the chief minister had removed finance secretary Debashish Gupta and brought in Rahul Sarin in his place. Gupta has been moved to the road construction department in place of Sarin.

In the bureaucratic shuffle, Ashok Kumar Singh has been posted as secretary, higher education, and Sajal Chakrabarty as secretary, relief and rehabilitation. Mary Veena Kachchap, director, Institute of Rural Development, has been made the labour secretary in place of Arvind Kumar Sinha, who moves to Daltonganj as the divisional commissioner. Kachchap had earlier been posted as Palamau commissioner, but had not reported there.

Laxmi Singh is the fourth chief secretary of the state in three years.

The first two chief secretaries of Jharkhand, V.S. Dubey and G. Krishnan, have retired. Laxmi Singh is to retire in 2005, while Mishra will reach superannuation in 2007.

The appointment of Laxmi Singh has sent out mixed signals to the bureaucracy. While the chief minister is widely perceived to have succumbed to pressure by a section of the ministers that wanted Mishra out, a few bureaucrats said Laxmi Singh is likely to be less pliable than her predecessor.

Sources said the outgoing chief secretary this morning sent in a formal request to the chief minister to be relieved. Munda quickly acted on it and ordered the transfer.

Mishra and finance secretary Debashish Gupta had fallen foul of several ministers who objected to their adverse remarks on official files. According to sources, the ministers felt the files should have straight gone to the chief minister and not to the chief secretary.

Mishra had stood his ground and pointed out that according to the rules of executive business, the chief secretary had to write his remarks on the files before despatching them to the chief minister.

Science and technology minister Samaresh Singh and his energy counterpart Lalchand Mahto had been clamouring for replacement of the chief secretary.

Sources said even ministers belonging to the BJP were not “too happy” with Mishra and had demanded his ouster.

Labour minister Sadhnu Bhagat had proposed that transfers and postings in his department should be finalised at the ministerial level. The proposal was turned down by the chief secretary, who pointed out that the rules designated the chief minister as the final arbiter.

A section of the bureaucrats said since the new chief secretary belongs to the same caste as that of Samaresh Singh, the appointment is designed to placate him.

Another section, however, said it is a smart move by Munda to have a more assertive and experienced chief secretary. Laxmi Singh has held several important posts in the government in her long career.

Sources close to the chief minister said that more bureaucratic shuffles are expected after Foundation Day celebrations on November 15.

The next time it will be the turn of deputy commissioners and superintendents of police, they added.

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