There is an unusual silence within the ruling party and the state government over the latest controversy involving senior party minister Girish Bapat. The Aurangabad bench of the High Court, issuing a stern reprimand, has stated that the food and civil supplies minister has misused his ministerial position and flouted norms by restoring the licence of a blacklisted fair price shop. With even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis avoiding a comment on the issue, the Opposition and the disgruntled camp within the BJP has upped the ante. Ousted BJP minister Eknath Khadse, without naming Bapat, fired another salvo at Fadnavis.
Lot To Handle
Too many departments and not too many men. That’s how the Devendra Fadnavis government is functioning at the moment, with the system of entrusting additional charges becoming more of a rule rather than an exception. Consider this. In a drought year, the state has gone without a full-time agriculture minister and a full-time agriculture secretary for eight months and five months, respectively. Additional Chief Secretary (Housing) Sanjay Kumar has also been given additional charge as Home Secretary, while the public health minister’s portfolio is with Public Works Department Minister Eknath Shinde. The state has also gone without a full-time cooperatives commissioner for a few months now. Sources say with several top men overburdened with multiple profiles, the pace of work has taken some beating.
Behind The Scene
There is a lot of talk over how a retired IAS officer is acting as a go-between between the government and corporates on revenue matters. According to sources, the bureaucrat, who had handled key urban portfolios during his tenure and had also courted some controversies, has stationed himself in a well-known office building near Mantralaya. Questions are being raised over the unusual access he enjoys to matters and files pertaining to the revenue department.
Playing It Safe
In the aftermath of BJP’s drubbing in India’s heartland states, some bureaucrats, seen as blue-eyed boys of the ruling dispensation and occupying key positions in the secretariat, have begun to tread more cautiously on official matters. The fate met by CBI’s Special Director Rahul Asthana too hasn’t gone unnoticed in the state bureaucracy.
According to sources, attempts to repatriate senior IAS officer Baldev Singh from the Centre have been put on hold for now. Singh, a 1989-batch officer, who is on a central deputation as the Development Commissioner of the Santa Cruz Exclusive Processing Zone, SEZ Mumbai, had earlier evinced interest in returning to the state cadre, following which the state had approached the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training for his repatriation.
Eyebrows are being raised in the corridors of power over certain new stipulations incorporated in a branding rights contract floated by a semi-government agency in the financial capital. There is intense debate that the new provisions are tailored to suit a player.
(Compiled by SANDEEP ASHAR)