Out of luck now
COALGATE HAS reached Lucknow. An IAS officer, joint secretary in the Coal Ministry when coal blocks were doled out, is now heading a key infrastructure department in Uttar Pradesh and is close to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The officer is worried the CBI will question him on the coal business. Panicking, he has stopped signing important files and documents in his current job. As it happens, this officer worked in the Sports Ministry when Suresh Kalmadi scripted the Commonwealth Games swindle. Talk of luck!
Rumours are afoot of a reshuffle in the Kerala Cabinet. CN Balakrishnan, minister of cooperation, could lose his berth. Apparently, CM Oommen Chandy wants to induct loyalist Benny Behanan, but has held back as Benny is a Syrian Christian and that would disturb the Cabinet’s religious balance. Incidentally, K Muraleedharan, the late K Karunakaran’s son, is being ignored. Foes otherwise, Chandy and state Congress unit chief Ramesh Chennithala have come together to block Muraleedharan.
Sindhushree Khullar, secretary, Planning Commission, seems set to become the next CAG. She’s edged out Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and former telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar. Khullar is backed by P Chidambaram who has worked with her at various points in her IAS career. Incidentally, this also shows the power shift in the government. When Vinod Rai was made CAG, he was pushed in by TKA Nair, then PM Singh’s principal secretary. Nair knew Rai from the latter’s Kerala days.
Some secretary-level jobs, such as those of home and defence secretary, are deemed more equal than others. The incumbents get a two-year stint irrespective of date of retirement. Now, after much lobbying, the petroleum secretary’s job is being added to that list, apparently because energy security is such a big deal. Others suspect corporate interests are at play.
Sham Lal Sharma was former health minister of J&K and is now minister for public health engineering (PHE). Taj Mohiuddin was former PHE minister and is now minister for medical education. The two Congress members are rivals and have begun anti-corruption probes against each other. Worried about the situation in the run up to 2014, the party has asked Tourism Minister Rigzin Jora to forge a reconciliation.