Maharashtra Government will not give extension to the incumbent chief secretary Debashish Chakrabarty who retires on February 28. Instead, The Maha Vikas Aghadi government therefore has started the process to appoint Chakrabarty’s successor. The additional chief secretary (home department) Manukumar Srivastava who belongs to IAS batch of 1986 and additional chief secretary Manoj Saunik (finance and public work departments) from IAS batch of1987 are the front-runners for the post of new Chief Secretary.
The government, which had appointed Chakrabarty as the acting chief secretary after the incumbent chief secretary Sitaram Kunte retired on November 30, 2021, had regularised his appointment on February 15 with retrospective effect. However, the government had not sought his extension by writing to the Department of Personnel and Training.
A senior bureaucrat told the Free Press Journal, ‘’Srivastava and Saunik are two serious contenders. If seniority is the criteria, then Srivastava has a fair chance. However, Saunik may be the fit candidate but if there are other considerations including proximity with bosses from the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government and also from the opposition are taken into account. Saunik enjoys cordial relations with the ruling and opposition. On the other hand, Srivastava is an officer who keeps himself away from the publicity while maintaining a low profile.’’ He said there are precedents where the government has bypassed seniority to appoint the chief secretary.
Srivastava, if appointed, will get term till April 2023 while Saunik till December 2023.
The new chief secretary’s appointment will come days before the commencement of the three-weeks budget session of the state legislature from March 3. Chakrabarty’s successor will be busy with the legislative work and in addition he will be involved in a court battle on the restoration of 27% OBC quota in the local bodies, the demand by the striking employees for the merger of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation with the state government. Besides, the new chief secretary will have to oversee the implementation of a slew of measures taken by the government for the revival of the state economy impacted because of coronavirus pandemic induced lockdowns and economic downturn.