In the one year since Anandiben Patel replaced Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister, almost the entire senior bureaucracy has undergone a transition. Some officers have followed Prime Minister Modi to New Delhi, some have retired, and the only top officer from Team Modi still serving in Gujarat is chief principal secretary Kuniyil Kailashnathan.
The last key exits have been D J Pandian, who retired as chief secretary last month, and Girish Chandra Murmu who, having been principal secretary in the CMO for seven years, has now gone on central deputation. The team with Modi in Delhi includes over a dozen top IAS officers, such as A K Sharma and Hasmukh Adhia.
The changes had begun in the government’s initial months but had been slow at that point. In 2014, it was in fact Anandiben who had appointed Pandian as chief secretary, superseding S K Nanda, then the most senior bureaucrat. Pandian was seen as a key member of Team Modi, the man who had helped the then CM turn Gujarat into a petrochemical hub.
When Pandian’s term ended last month, he didn’t get an extension. Anandiben appointed a new chief secretary in Ganga Ram Aloria. Until then additional chief secretary (home), Aloria had worked closely with Patel during her tenure as urban development and revenue minister. Pandian and Aloria are both of the 1981 batch of IAS officers. Last year, Aloria had been entrusted with home while senior officer J N Singh had been brought into finance ahead of the first full budget of the Anandiben government.
“The change in focus from Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat to Patel’s Gatisheel Gujarat will reflect in the bureaucracy too,” said an officer in the CMO.
Patel has replaced Murmu with S Aparna of the 1988 batch, the first woman officer in the CMO in Gujarat’s 55 years. Murmu has taken care of the crucial home portfolio in the CMO and looked after key petitions relating to fake encounter cases and the 2002 riots. Within a fortnight of her appointment, she toured China with Patel, the CM’s maiden foreign trip.
Kailashnathan, the most senior bureaucrat in the CMO and serving on contract since retirement, is credited with helping Modi create his image of a business-friendly CM through the Vibrant Gujarat summits. The team around him began changing last year with Anandi first bringing in then Rajkot Municipal Corporation commissioner Ajay Bhadoo as secretary, CMO, replacing Vijay Nehra whom Modi had brought in.
Anandi gave Kailashnathan a year’s extension last month, the second since his retirement in 2013.
While P K Taneja, additional chief secretary (forest and environment) has been given additional charge of home, principal secretary (general administration department, personnel) K Srinivas, considered a key officer, has been retained in the post that he had taken up towards the end of the Modi regime in Gujarat.
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