The race for the post of Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) chairman is hotting up. While the name of outgoing Director General of Police Satish Mathur (1981-batch, IPS) has been doing the rounds for some time now, Director General (Shipping) Malini Shankar (1984-batch, IAS) has also evinced interest in the key post. While Mathur is to retire this month-end, Shankar will attain superannuation in December. A N Tripathi (1987 batch, IFS), who had earlier served as the Secretary to the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, has also entered the fray, making it a three-cornered contest.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is miffed with a junior official in the protocol department, who sources said was “insensitive” enough to call former Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar’s office, asking the staff to vacate the cabin in the state Secretariat even before his pyre was lit. After the episode came to light, the Fadnavis government had come in for criticism even from BJP quarters. The chief minister had already invited criticism from some for going ahead with an inauguration hours after Fundkar passed away.
Politicians are a superstitious lot. Following the untimely death of Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, the tittle-tattle on how the minister’s cabin on the sixth floor behind the chief minister’s cabin is “jinxed” has been doing the rounds in political circles. Once the most sought-after office after the chief minister’s cabin, those spreading the word say how those who have occupied it have courted trouble. Former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, ousted BJP minister Eknath Khadse and Fundkar were previous occupants.
They wield tremendous clout in the government, most work behind the scenes and have unhindered access to the most powerful politicians. Small wonder then that hectic lobbying has broken out for top jobs in Maharashtra’s security establishment. Transfers and postings for key IPS positions are expected to be announced in the coming week. The most intense lobbying has been seen for the police commissioner’s posts in Navi Mumbai and Thane, which are due for a change of guard.
More trouble is in store for former Gondia Collector Abhimanyu Kale. After facing the embarrassment of being unceremoniously transferred out from the district, the Election Commission of India has now reportedly barred the 2005-batch IAS officer from any electoral duties for five years, citing discrepancies in the recent Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypolls. Sources claimed the EC’s diktat will now make it difficult for the state administration to assign Kale posts of Collector or civic commissioner in any district.
Errors in Mumbai’s new Development Plan are mounting every day. And the blame game has begun between the Mumbai municipality and the urban development department’s officials. Some in the corridors of power are also blaming the CMO’s haste in getting the plan sanctioned as being behind the mess. Sources claimed the chief minister has instructed Mumbai civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta and Principal Secretary (Urban Development) Dr Nitin Kareer to rescue matters.
(Contributed by Sandeep Ashar)