Water Resources and Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan is rapidly rising through the ranks. After acting as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s chief trouble-shooter in successfully handling stirs over milk prices and the farmers’ stir, sources said Mahajan’s clout in the cabinet and within the BJP has soared after leading the party to a thumping victory in the Jalgaon municipal poll this past week. Mahajan, who is a six-time legislator from Jalgaon’s Jamner, had spearheaded the party’s election campaign. The same election result, however, comes as a major setback for former minister and Shiv Sena leader Suresh Jain, whose local outfit, the Khandesh Vikas Agadhi, was routed.
Missing the Bus
CM Devendra Fadnavis’s private secretary Dilip Rajurkar missed out on IAS nomination from the non-state civil services (SCS) grade this past week. While Rajurkar’s name had figured in the top 10 candidates shortlisted for the two positions that were on offer, he failed to advance further. Had he made the grade, he would have become the fourth non-SCS cadre officer from Fadnavis’s office to be nominated to the IAS in the last three years. Kailash Shinde, Vivek Bhimanwar and Milind Borikar — all working with the CMO — had earlier secured the elevation. This time, the ones who made it to the IAS include state’s Environment Director Dr B N Patil, who is perhaps the first person from the applied sciences branch to secure an IAS nomination, and cooperatives cadre officer Deepak Taware, who had worked in the CMO when (late) Vilasrao Deshmukh was at the helm.
Facing The Heat
Isolated within his party over the Maratha pro-reservation protests, CM Devendra Fadnavis continues to face the brunt of the protests. In the wake of intelligence inputs that demonstrations could be held against him, the CM has literally been confined to his office and official residence in Mumbai the last two weeks. While he is known for his communication skills, Fadnavis had earlier angered the protesting groups following a controversial remark on July 22, when he had mentioned receiving inputs that snakes would have been let loose among devotees during the annual Ashadhi Ekadashi pooja in Pandharpur the following day. He had mentioned this as a justification for his decision to skip his own visit to the shrine. While Fadnavis was originally scheduled to campaign for local polls in Sangli and Jalgaon, sources confirmed that his tour managers were forced to drop these plans in view of the threat perception. The BJP’s win in the Maratha-dominated Sangli will at least serve as a major relief to the CM.
Former Gondia Collector Abhimanyu Kale, who had suffered the embarrassment of being unceremoniously transferred out from the district by the Election Commission of India, has finally secured a position in the state’s secretariat. The 2005-batch IAS officer has been appointed as a Joint Secretary with the Food and Civil Supplies department. Citing discrepancies during the recent Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypoll, the ECI had reportedly barred him from any electoral duties for the next five years, making it difficult for the CM to assign Kale posts of Collector or civic commissioner.
Not So Happy
Speculation is rife in the corridors of power that Additional Chief Secretary Sham Lal Goyal is not all that pleased with his transfer as the Resident Commissioner of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi. While the Chief Minister-led General Administration Department (GAD) issued his transfer order on July 31, sources confirmed that Goyal is yet to take charge of his new assignment. Word is that the 1985-batch senior IAS officer — who has been receiving accolades for pushing reforms in the Water Supply and Sanitation department — had been expecting to continue with the same department for at least a few more months.
Bridging The Gap
In some good news for the state’s bureaucracy, the intake of IAS officers in the state has risen sharply. The Narendra Modi government has okayed the state’s proposal to increase the IAS cadre strength in the state from 368 to 427. Sources said senior bureaucrats from the state, who had travelled specially to Delhi to justify the proposal for increasing the intake, are to be credited for the decision. Maharashtra’s IAS cadre strength was last reviewed in 2015, and the usual norm is to review this after five years. But the Department of Personnel and Training under Modi okayed the state’s proposal for a mid-term review. The decision would lead to increase in intake in both the direct and promotee IAS segments. It’ll also allow open up more administrative positions for the IAS cadre in local bodies.