Choice of CS stares at Bihar

New Delhi (05.01.2021): What are the options of Susashan Babu to bridge the huge gaps in administration? Who would be his CS to continue and retain his grip and control over Bihar in the changed political equation in the state?

Even as these questions hang in the balance, speculations are rife in Patna whether CS Deepak Kumar, 1984 batch, may be made another adviser to the CM like his predecessor Anjani Kumar Singh. What’s feeding the rumor mills is the long-standing rapport between Deepak Kumar and CM Nitish Kumar that resulted in two extensions of six months each for the former who is now scheduled to retire on February 28, 2021.

Even as the CMO gets crowded – already there are two deputy CMs and a host of officials to assist them to propagandize their achievements, huge administrative gaps are seen appearing in the course of 2021.

To begin with, two senior-most officers from the 1985 batch, Development Commissioner Arun Kumar Singh and chairman-cum-member of the Board of Revenue Tripurari Sharan, are due to retire on August 31 and June 30 respectively; and hence neither of them may be picked up for the CS post.

What may make the selection of a new CS more tricky, not only because of the new political reality of the state where the BJP is the big brother but also because there are as many as 28 state cadre IAS officers who are scheduled to retire this year limiting the choice of officers. Their scheduled retirement means that the government perforce may have to pick up from the list of officers from the 1987 batch (if officers from the 1986 batch are not available), who may be left with at least two years of service and who may have completed 25 years of service.

Among the 28 officers scheduled to retire this year are six in CS’s rank, one in secretary’s rank, 11 in special secretary’s rank, and 10 are JS.

Prominent among the CS rank officers retiring this year are officers posted on central deputation: Current Food and Public Distribution Secretary Ravikant (June 30), Union Sports Secretary Ravi Mittal (September 30), and special secretary to President of India ELSN Bala Prasad (June 30)

A number of other senior IAS officers serving in the state government are also scheduled to retire over the next four months: director statistics Rajeshwar Prasad Singh on January 31, urban development and housing special secretary Abhay Raj on January 31, home special secretary Ishwar Chandra Sinha on February 28, the board of revenue secretary Surendra Jha on February 28; Darbhanga divisional commissioner Radheshyam Sah on March 31; and cane commissioner Arshad Aziz on April 30.

The troubled state is said to have been suffering from huge administrative gaps for a long time. This is reflected in the availability of merely 200 IAS officers against the state’s allocation of 342. Even from the available 200, only 168 are said to be working in the state. Of the remaining 32, some are on central deputation and some on the interstate. And even among the 168 serving in the state, 12 from the 2019 batch are on probation.

(By MK Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)

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