Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains has been given a six-month extension. As per the order of the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pension, Bains, who was set to retire Wednesday, November 30, will continue in the post until May 31, 2023.
The order referred to a letter from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sent on November 9, 2022, requesting an extension to Bains’s tenure. Bains’s extension comes at a time when the state is headed for an Assembly election, expected to take place in November 2023.
The order granting Bains an extension noted, “I am directed to refer to DO letter dated 9.11.2022 of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on the above mentioned subject and to convey the approval of the Central Government for extension in service of Shri Iqbal Singh Bains, IAS (MP-85), Chief Secretary Government of Madhya Pradesh for a period of six months beyond his date of superannuation, i e from 1.12.2022 to 31.5.2023 under Rule 16 (1) if AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958.”
Bains was appointed chief secretary within 24 hours of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government returning to power in March 2020 with the support of Jyotiraditya Scindia and 25 Congress MLAs who had defected to the BJP.
According to those in the know of the development, Bains’s extension should be seen as an end to the talks of a change in chief ministership in the state.
“The present chief secretary has been opposed by various factions within the present government, but the fact that he has been given the extension based on the CM’s letter should be seen as the CM’s decision prevailing and an end to any talks of any changes in the top post,” said a senior officer within the state government.
Rumours of Bains getting an extension became stronger with Chief Minister Chouhan’s visit to Delhi two days ago and the fact that no officer was appointed as the officer of special duty (OSD) in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) despite Bain’s retirement day inching close.
“The letter to the Union government was sent on November 9 and even in the interim period or before that, the chief minister never discussed the possibility of any other officer being considered for the post of CS. In all probability, Bains will be again given a six months extension and the next Assembly election will be conducted with him holding the top post in the state,” said another officer requesting anonymity.
There were six front runners for the post if Bains was not given an extension, including, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Mohammad Suleman (1989), ACS Anuraj Jain (1989), who is presently on deputation in the central government, Shailendra Singh (1988), Sanjay Bandopadhyay (1988), Ajay Tirkey (1987), among others.
Amongst these, Anuraj Jain was the principal secretary under the Chouhan government and principal secretary (finance) under the Kamal Nath-led Congress government before moving out on deputation as secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
Jain had served as the collector of Bhopal and met Chief Minister Chouhan last month at his house. The meeting triggered speculations of him being zeroed in for the top job after Bains’s retirement.