Mumbai: As the Chief Minister's Office will soon get a chief coordinator, highly placed sources in the government have revealed that the current chief secretary, Ajoy Mehta, had his eye on the post. He had reportedly tried to stall the appointment of a politician to this position by delaying the proposal for a while.
Soon after assuming office, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray felt the need for an assistant in the CMO, to take off the pressure and for effective coordination. He had instructed Ajoy Mehta to initiate the process. Thinking that CM Thackeray was finding it difficult to run the administration as he was a novice on matters gubernatorial, Mehta pushed his own name for the post. He requested consideration of his name as he is scheduled to retire on March 31, 2020, having been granted a six-month extension in September 2019. CM Thackeray was not keen on appointing a bureaucrat as chief coordinator. He had decided to appoint Ravindra Waikar to the position.
Mehta was instructed to ready the proposal and set in motion the process for Waikar's appointment. "Last month, the CM enquired about the progress in this matter. But Mehta told him the proposal was in process. The CM understood that the CS was delaying this," highly placed sources close to the CM told The Free Press Journal. "Mehta lobbied hard for the post but CM Thackeray insisted Waikar had to be accommodated as he had not been given a cabinet berth. The CM told Mehta, he also had his party to consider. Further, he told Mehta he needed an experienced politician, who could effectively coordinate with legislators and members of Parliament (MPs)," the sources said.
In his meeting with Shiv Sena legislators and MPs last month, the CM had told them to coordinate with Waikar for all governance-related work which needed a follow-up from the CMO. This was the first indication that Waikar was on his way to handle the CMO.
Office is not in Mantralaya
The office of the chief coordinatator will not be on the sixth floor of Mantralaya, where the CM and his staff are. Waikar's office will be in the new administrative building, opposite Mantralaya. "I am in the process of finalising my staff and my personal secretary," Waikar told the FPJ. " I will also follow up on various projects and schemes at the BMC-level," he informed.