Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s visit and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s show of strength in Ayodhya on Sunday brought the Ram temple issue into the limelight yet again. But in the state’s corridors of power, this has also rekindled the debate of the BJP and Shiv Sena setting aside their differences and stitching a poll alliance on the Ram Mandir issue. It is noteworthy that Maharashtra’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve on Sunday welcomed Thackeray’s visit.
The buzz doing the rounds pertaining to Uddhav Thackeray’s Ayodhya trip is that the clout of Shiv Sena’s most powerful minister in the Maharashtra government, Eknath Shinde, and party MP Sanjay Raut has grown within the party on account of it. The two leaders were at the centrestage of planning Thackeray’s visit. Word is that their growing clout is causing some uneasiness among other Shiv Sena leaders, which manifested itself in a “poster war” of sorts. While Shinde had himself installed the most number of posters welcoming Thackeray in Ayodhya followed by Raut, other leaders, who have always promoted their closeness to the Thackeray family, were seen installing hoardings and banners in Mumbai.
It has been over a week since Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis transferred Principal Secretary Vijay Kumar Gautam from the tourism department to the post of member secretary of the state’s human rights commission, but the 1987-batch IAS officer is reportedly yet to comply with the orders. Gautam, who is believed to be peeved over his transfer, had convened an official meeting of seniors at the tourism department days after he was transferred. Angered by his response, sources said Tourism Minister Jaikumar Rawal’s office issued a diktat to all the officials, saying they must now report to Vinita Vaid Singhal (1997 batch), who has been named Gautam’s successor.
The list of senior state bureaucrats who have shown interest in seeking deputation for the post of chairman of the Jawarhalal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) is growing. According to sources, at least five senior IAS officers — Ashish Kumar Singh (1988), Meeta Rajiv Lochan (1990), Mahesh Pathak (1991), Sanjay Sethi (1992) and Atul Patne (1999) — have so far evinced keenness for the central assignment. The Department of Personnel and Training has granted time up to mid-January for civil servants to apply for the vacant post.
Intense lobbying has begun within the middle-rung of the state bureaucracy for the sugar commissioner’s post. The key post will fall vacant when incumbent Sambhaji Kadupatil (1998) retires this month-end. The sugar commissioner’s post is a thread between the government and the powerful cooperative sugar industry, which controls the state’s rural economy. With the chief minister nominating a non-IAS officer to the co-operation commissioner’s post this September, the state’s IAS cadre is keen to at least retain the sugar commissioner’s post.
With the extended tenure of Maharashtra’s Director General of Police Dattatray Padsalgikar ending this month-end, all eyes are now on the chief minister’s next move in this regard. While the norm has been to not give further extension beyond three months to civil servants below the cabinet secretary and chief secretary rank, there is a section within the police establishment and the bureaucracy that feels that Padsalgikar might get another three months’ extension.
Compiled by Sandeep Ashar