Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s initiative to transform 1,000 villages into model neighbourhood — the Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation — will soon have a politician at the helm. As reported three weeks back, Devendra Fadnavis was in the process of creating a special executive director’s post to accommodate a BJP spokesperson. It can now be confirmed that he has nominated Shweta Shalini, who played a crucial role in the urban body polls, to the post. Her appointment is expected to be announced once the board of directors clears her name next week. With some senior bureaucrats not entirely in favour of the move, Fadnavis has nominated a retired IAS officer, Umakant Dangat, to the other executive director’s position.
The much-anticipated top-level bureaucratic rejig could be delayed following protests over the Bhima Koregaon violence and the Kamala Mills fire incident. While Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick’s name has already been cleared for the Chief Information Commissioner’s role, it is understood that the CM wants to time the reshuffle suitably in the aftermath of the incidents. But with the debate on a significant reshuffle in the bureaucracy persisting for nearly two months now, some senior bureaucrats say the pace of administrative work has suffered.
J P Gupta, a 1993-batch IAS officer, has received the short end of the stick once again. Gupta, who has already faced more transfers than any other bureaucrat since the Devendra Fadnavis government took over, now faces the ignominy of being the only officer from his batch not to be promoted to the principal secretary’s rank. In Gupta’s case, it is learnt, it was found that the annual confidential report for the three years he had served in the Governor’s office were found to be missing, impacting his prospects. Batchmate Mahesh Zagade, meanwhile, has achieved the rare feat of being a promotee IAS officer who has gone on to become a principal secretary.
The corridors of power are rife with a speculation that 1985-batch IAS officer Vishwanath Giriraj, who retired last October, is being considered for the post of Maharashtra State Finance Commission’s next chairman. Giriraj had attained superannuation as additional chief secretary (expenditure). Buzz is also that his batchmate, Ujjwal Uke, who retired in December, is in the race for the post of chairman, Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal.
Transport Minister Diwakar Roate is sulking. His plan to invite Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray for an official function in Mumbai Central Saturday backfired. Thackeray fired several barbs seemingly targeting Raote’s performance as a minister during the function. While the buzz has been rife for a while now that Thackeray isn’t happy with Raote’s performance, this was perhaps the first time when he was making his displeasure public. Insiders say Raote may soon find himself benched, unless something dramatically changes.
The IAS community may have taken a strong objection to the home department’s proposal of allocating the posts of transport commissioner and the excise commissioner to IPS officers, but insiders tell us that the chief minister is not entirely averse to the move. But it would be interesting to see if he goes ahead with the move despite the objections raised by the IAS community.
In Choppy Waters
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale is in a fix. With Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar projecting his protests over the Bhima Koregaon violence as one against right wing extremist elements, Athawale, who had forged a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, finds himself on a sticky wicket. Having first attempted to project the Bhima Koregaon fight as a caste struggle, he has now even offered to quit his ministership if all Republican forces were to unite.
Compiled by Sandeep Ashar
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