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Bengal chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi gets six-month extension, relief for Mamata

In the event the Centre approves his second extension for an additional six months, Dwivedi could see through the Lok Sabha polls of 2024 in addition to the coming panchayat polls

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 30.06.23, 02:50 PM
Mamata Banerjee and H.K. Dwivedi

Mamata Banerjee and H.K. Dwivedi TTO Graphics

Putting speculation to rest, the Prime Minister's office approved a six-month extension to the service tenure of Bengal chief secretary Hari Krishna Dwivedi, the extension allowing chief minister Mamata Banerjee to lean on the top bureaucrat’s expertise to get past the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state.

The formal approval from the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training, under the PMO, arrived on Friday morning, Dwivedi’s final day in office, in the wake of a one-year extension request put in by the chief minister a couple of months back. The letter, though, is dated June 28.

Letter of approval for extension of Bengal chief secretary HK Dwivedi's tenure for six months.

Letter of approval for extension of Bengal chief secretary HK Dwivedi's tenure for six months.

The wait for the Centre’s approval till the eleventh hour had given rise to fervent speculations in the power corridors of state secretariat Nabanna on whether the Centre could turn down the request for Dwivedi, especially in the wake of its recent refusal to entertain the Punjab government’s request to extend the tenure of its chief secretary, VK Januja, who retired on Friday.

Dwivedi becomes the second chief secretary in Mamata Banerjee’s three-term tenure as chief minister to accept an extension in office beyond normal superannuation and the first one to accept a six-month augmentation for his chair. Earlier, in 2011, former chief secretary Samar Ghosh accepted a three-month extension in office but turned down the approval for a second extension for an additional period of three months. In May, 2021 then chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay also received an extension for three months which he turned down on account of a political and administrative logjam between the Centre and state and assumed the position of Chief Advisor to Mamata Banerjee post his retirement.

Dwivedi, an IAS cadre of the 1988 batch, succeeded Bandyopadhyay and has been serving the government as the state’s top bureaucrat for two years now. He had previously served as Bengal’s additional chief secretary, home secretary and finance secretary.

Senior officials at Nabanna confirmed that the government may exercise the option of seeking another extension for Dwivedi, as per convention, before his term ends in December this year. In the eventuality of the Centre approving his second extension for an additional six months, Dwivedi would not only see the Mamata Banerjee government through the upcoming Panchayat elections in July this year but also the crucial Lok Sabha polls which are scheduled to take place in the first half of 2024, top government officials said.

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