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Khanday's retention alone can solve impasse
Kaun Banega Chief Secretary?
8/28/2015 11:47:50 PM
Abdul Majid
Early Times Report
Srinagar, Aug 28: Even as vested interests are trying to sabotage appointment of BR Sharma as the new Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khanday may emerge winner by retaining the top chair only because their IAS colleague Khurshid Ganie is only a "third party to the dispute".
While the State Cabinet has hinted at BR Sharma taking over as the next boss of the bureaucracy, voices within the Government are hell bent on creating confusion.
Quarters within the Civil Secretariat are propagating that Sharma is junior to at least to four IAS officers - Ashok Kumar Angurana, Arun Kumar, his wife Sonali Kumar and Khursheed A Ganai and thus "couldn't be given the top charge."
They say if Sharma is elevated as Chief Secretary, the only official in this senior-most list of five, who will feel offended is Khurshid Ganie and thus the latter be made the boss.
The theory goes like this: While Angurana is on deputation with the Union Government, the Kumar couple, though within the State hold adequate positions which are outside the control of Chief Secretary: Arun Kumar is FC revenue while Sonali heads State's Special Tribunal.
This is not the case with Ganai who operates as a senior head of the Finance department and operates from the Civil Secretariat.
"If Sharma takes over as the next Chief Secretary, the Government will have to first offer an adequate position for Ganie. Given his seniority, Ganie may dislike the idea of working under his junior," sources said.
But Government has reservations in elevating Ganie, as Chief Secretary due to his fast approaching retirement. While Khanday is scheduled to retire by November, Ganai is retiring in late October. "If Ganie is not made Chief Secretary, the Government will have to manage his posting for two months outside the Secretariat. That is something impossible at this juncture," said a senior official asking not to be identified.
But elevating BR Sharma as the Chief Secretary won't be anything unusual. Officials said a similar dilemma erupted a decade back when the then Government decided to appoint Dr S S Bloeria as the Chief Secretary. "Bleoria superseded three of his IAS colleagues. While one of his batch mates agreed to work under him, the Government had to simply post two others outside, away from his administrative control," the sources said.
But if Bleoria had a cakewalk to the top post, why Sharma is facing obstructions? Sources said Iqbal Khanday's "game plan" to seek voluntary retirement at the fag-end of his service tenure has encouraged other similar officials, who at the verge of retirement, to follow his footsteps.
Ganie's case matches with that of Khanday. "While Khanday is essentially offended for not having been taken as Chairman J&K Bank, Ganie's scheduled appointment as Chairman Public Service Commission was rejected by the ruling coalition," the sources said.
For Ganie, Khanday's untimely exit had come as blessing in disguise. "But as the Government banks on Sharma, Ganie wants to follow Khanday by opting for voluntary retirement at least to be in news," the sources said.
This has left the PDP-BJP coalition in a precarious situation. "If two Muslim officers opt for voluntary retirement, the National Conference, which is hell bent to project the ruling coalition as working on communal agenda, will instigate masses against the development and this is something which PDP cannot afford in Kashmir," said a senior politician in know of the matter.
Given the situation, the Government can overcome the crisis in a better way, only if Khanday is retained. "It's a matter of three months... After Khanday's normal retirement in November, none will be able to stop Sharma from emerging as the new boss," the sources in the PDP told Early Times.
With this all in mind, at least two cabinet ministers from PDP are understood to have started lobbying that Khanday be persuaded to take back papers of voluntary retirement and continue as the Chief Secretary.
This newspaper reliably learnt that PDP has picked up the issue with Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh to persuade BJP to "reconsider the issue of Khanday's retention."
"Khanday's retention as Chief Secretary is the only viable solution for the problem… Otherwise it's feared to be a chain reaction full of hiccups," said sources close to a PDP minister.
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