Babus close to Raje now with Modi

Babus close to Raje now with Modi

Transfer of senior officers to Centre creates problems for R'than

The appointment of Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi in the Union government has created a severe vacuum in the senior bureaucracy of the state. 

Ten senior bureaucrats of the Rajasthan cadre are working with various Union ministries in New Delhi. Of them, seven have been called to work with team Modi this year after  Vasundhara Raje became Rajasthan Chief Minister.

Three senior officers close to Raje were also called to New Delhi in the past three months. They include Chief Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Principal Secretary of Finance Subhash Garg and Additional Chief Secretary of Home Sunil Arora. 

The transfer of these three officers not only created hurdles for the state government but triggered political rumours within the ruling BJP.  

“The Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary Finance and Additional Chief Secretary Home have been transferred to New Delhi to work with team Modi. Home, Finance and the office of the Chief Secretary were the three key portfolios, and all the three officers were trusted lieutenants of Raje,” a senior BJP legislator said.

He said it is not known what interest Modi and his team have in the senior officers of Rajasthan, especially those close to Raje. Senior IAS officer G S Sandhu was another influential officer in the previous government, and had worked with the Urban Development and Housing Ministry.

Immediately after coming to power, Raje transferred him to the Minority Affairs Department. A few days later, team Modi found him “immensely capable” and gave an important post in the Union Finance Department.

Other senior officers such as Commissioner of Textile Ministry Kiran Soni Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director of EXIM Bank Yadhuvendra Mathur and Joint Secretary of Pharmaceuticals Sudansh Pant were also transferred to Delhi early this year.

Among other senior IAS officers of Rajasthan cadre working in New Delhi with various departments and ministries include Arvind Mayaram, Ashish Bahuguna, Sudhir Bhargav, Lalit K Panwar and Sangita Gairola. 

Bhargav and Sandhu are said to have played a key role in Modi’s Jan Dhan Yojna. According to officers of the personnel department, there are 16 Rajasthan cadre officers serving as joint secretaries in various departments of the central government, besides senior officers of the state cadre.

Due to the shortage of IAS officers, Raje, after becoming the Chief Minister, brought half a dozen Rajasthan cadre officers back to the state from New Delhi.

They include General Administrative Department Principal Secretary Ajeet Singh, Jaipur Development Authority Commissioner Shikhar Agarwal, Principal Secretary of Mines Ashok Singhvi and Rajiv Mehrishi, who was made Chief Secretary. 

Raje is said to enjoy a good working relationship with Mehrishi as she also appointed his wife in the advisory committee of the state. 

No other senior bureaucrat was appointed in the Chief Minister’s Office, leaving Mehrishi alone to have a say in all matters.