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Is Ashok Gehlot reshuffling the Rajasthan bureaucracy too often?

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Prakash Bhandari, Jaipur: Playing his third innings as the Rajasthan chief minister, Ashok Gehlot believes in reshuffling the bureaucracy too often. The CM has transferred 67 IAS officers at 1.35 am on Wednesday. Gehlot loves to take major decisions post-midnight where only his close officials are allowed to be present.

Yet with such a large-scale reshuffle, the chief minister could not find suitable officials for some of the major departments and these departments have been distributed as an additional charge among officials.

The transfers and postings of officials in public view show how an officer figures in the CM’s book. Sometimes an important assignment is given to an officer but in less than three or four months, the officer is stripped of his charge and given some other department even before he could settle down in the said department.

The process started when Gehlot removed chief secretary DB Gupta and replaced him with Rajiva Swaroop and on his retirement, Gehlot superseded 10 senior officers to appoint a junior Niranjan Arya as the chief secretary. It was social engineering magic that the juggler chief minister chose to do by making Arya, a Dalit, the chief secretary much to the annoyance of his seniors.

Just to make Arya comfortable Gehlot sent several additional chief secretary-level officers outside the precincts of the state secretariat and last year only one additional chief secretary-level officer was allowed to stay in the secretariat. The rest of the additional chief secretary-level officers were sent out of the Sachivalay.

Subodh Agarwal, an additional chief secretary who was superseded by Arya ad was sent out of the secretariat was brought back after five months as the additional chief secretary (ACS) of the petroleum department. He has been burdened with an additional charge of the solar power corporation chairman also.

Another senior officer Samit Sharma was transferred for the sixth time since the Congress government came to power in 2018 and so is the case of Kunji Lal Meena who was transferred for the fifth time and Ajitabh Sharma, who was once a powerful officer in the chief minister’s office, was transferred for the fourth time.

In fact, the chief minister is very upset with the attitude of the senior IAS officer who is all keen to go to the Centre on deputation because of the large-scale reshuffle that Gehlot has been doing.

In all, seven officers have been given additional charges apart from their normal duty. Such officers have not been able to do justice to their departments.

Shortage of bureaucrats in Rajasthan

The Union home ministry has fixed 313 IAS as the cadre strength for the state. But effectively, only 248 officers are there and 20 officers are on the Union government deputation. Thus, there is a shortage of IAS officers that has left Gehlot with limited options.

Out of the 33 districts, there are 15 districts where the collectors are all promotee IAS which affects the quality of administration. Even Jaipur’s district collector is a promotee and the same applies to Udaipur and Kota.

Two retired chief secretaries said that such frequent transfers of officials do no good for the departments as the officers do not work with sincerity or with convictions and the growth is hampered.

 

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