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#Column: Where is the chief secretary as the state battles Covid19?

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Gujarat bureaucracy and media is abuzz with different stories about the chief secretary ‘missing’ in action as the state battles the Covid19 pandemic. Anil Mukim had taken over as chief secretary of Gujarat at the end of November 19, 2019 after the extended term of former Chief Secretary JN Singh came to an end.

In the beginning, Mukim was seen at the forefront even during the Trump visit and often appeared before the media too. But, since the lockdown was announced in India, all other bureaucrats associated with battling the pandemic have been visible, except for Mukim.

Principal Secretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi has been briefing the media on overall cases, while Secretary to Chief Minister Ashwini Kumar has been giving regular briefings on the steps taken by the government.

DGP Shivanand Jha has constantly given out details of the state of law and order and even the municipal commissioners of various corporations have ensured daily briefings before the media. Banchhanidhi Pani of the SMC and Rajkot Municipal Commissioner Udit Agrawal are some of the examples.

Similarly, ousted Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra used to do everyday briefings. Even after a new team under Additional Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar Gupta took over the handling of the pandemic in Ahmedabad, the briefings have continued.

But, we are yet to see a single briefing by Mukim, who as the chief secretary is the overall head of state bureaucracy. It seems Mukim has been missing in action. There is a buzz in the bureaucracy that he is a little reluctant player these days. Some bureaucrats even talk of his unhappiness with his present posting and that he wants to be somewhere else, may be back to a Central posting.

(The author is a senior journalist with over two decades of experience covering Gandhinagar, bureaucracy and politics in Gujarat.)

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