Jammu: Seeking to accord the former Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam an honourable departure after his 35-month-long tenure in Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today scoffed all rumours associated with the change of top bureaucratic guard in the Union Territory.
Since May 26, when Centre recalled Subrahmanyam, there has been a spate of speculations about timing, reason and manner of the change. A chronology of step by step events also indicated unusual process of replacement of the Chief Secretary.
In a farewell meeting at Srinagar this afternoon, the Lieutenant Governor said that the process of recall of Subraymanyam to the Center had actually began way back in January but it was at his (Sinha’s) behest that the change of bureaucratic guard was not allowed to happen in the best interest of administration.
“It was way back in January that the honourable Prime Minister had personally conveyed to me that Center required the services of Subrahmanyam in New Delhi”, at least two top IAS officers, who this writer spoke to, quoted Sinha as saying.
“The delay, in relieving Subrahmanyam, has entirely been because of me as I wanted him to continue”, the officers mentioned above further quoted the Lieutenant Governor to have said at the meeting. This statement, if true, assumes significance as a section of bureaucracy was discreetly suggesting Sinha’s challenged level of comfort with Subrahmanyam who is known for not carrying along well with Sinha’s three predecessors -NN Vohra, Satya Pal Malik and Girish Chandra Murmu. In fact at one point of time it was widely visible in the public that further continuation together of two -Murmu and Subrahmanyam -was impractical. At the height of tension between the two the Center recalled Murmu thus leaving an impression that Subrahmanyam’s influence was unparalleled.
At the Srinagar farewell meeting the Lieutenant Governor is further believed to have said that Subrahmanyam was the one who suggested Dr Arun Kumar Mehta’s name as his successor when the discussions were on for the replacement. Financial Commissioner Finance and fourth senior-most IAS officer in Jammu and Kashmir Mehta is the new Chief Secretary effective from May 30. Mehta continues to hold the charge of Finance Department indicating that a bureaucratic reshuffle at the top echelons could be under process.
Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer of 1987 batch, Subrahmanyam was a surprise check in as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary in June 2018, barely two days after the Bhartiya Janta Party pulled the rug under Mehbooba Mufti’s coalition government.
A hindsight view suggests that Subrahmanyam’s posting as Chief Secretary was was actually part of the ‘arrangements’ in run up to the monumental political developments Jammu and Kashmir was to go through over the next three years -including reading down of special status, bifurcation and downgrade to Union Territory.
Subrahmanyam, an officer with rare credit of having served as Private Secretary to two Prime Ministers from rival parties, has recently been posted out as Officer on Special Duty in the Ministery of Commerce in anticipation of his elevation as Secretary in June 30.
A believer in numerology, Subrahmanyam had wanted to relinquish the office on June 7 even with Dr Mehta as Chief Secretary in waiting, but the Union Territory government hastened the process by issuing a highly unusual order setting July 30 as transition deadline. This gave way to a number of speculations and rumours about the manner of Subrahmanyam’s exit.
Despite Sinha’s high words of praise for Subrahmanyam, a visible level of discomfort between the Chief Secretary and the Raj Bhawan was no secret. However, an astute politician, Sinha didn’t allow lobbies to thrive in this situation, something which went as hallmark of Murmu administration with his Principal Secretary Bipul Pathak’s ever visible eagerness to assert. On the contrary, Sinha’s Principal Secretary Nitishwar Kumar keeps a deliberate low profile.