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Next on PM's agenda: Bureaucratic reshuffle

May 29, 2009 09:08 IST

After successfully carving out his Council of Ministers and pleasing allies with plump posts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will now focus on the Union Budget to guide Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with his ideas and then undertake a major bureaucratic reshuffle, necessitated due to many retirements.

Sources in the Prime Minister's office say half-a-dozen major ministries are expected to have new secretaries by June 15 to facilitate smooth takeover from those demitting office by end of June or July.

New ministers will, as usual, press for bringing in own men of confidence as secretaries.

Dr Manmohan Singh has already asked Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekar to prepare a list of the senior IAS officers for the reshuffle.

Chandrashekar, who is due to retire on June 30 on turning 62, has been already assured a year's extension on the lines of one given to then Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi, the PMO sources said.

Others who will continue in the PM's team are National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, a retired Intelligence Bureau chief, and PM's Secretary TKA Nair, retired Punjab Chief Secretary.

Sources said the topmost priority will be to find a new Home secretary in consultations with Home Minister P Chidambaram as the present incumbent Madhukar Gupta (UP:1971) is completing his 3-month extension, given because of the elections, on June 30.

Another key position to be filled is that of the Defence Secretary as Vijay Singh (MP: 1970 cadre) is retiring July-end.

A replacement has to be found for Personnel Secretary Rahul Sareen (Bihar: 1973 cadre) who demitted office a fortnight ago and there's an urgent need to appoint someone to the post of Power secretary, which fell vacant after VS Sampath was named Election Commissioner.

A new Information and Broadcasting Secretary is also to be appointed as Sushma Singh has returned to parent cadre of Himachal Pradesh as Chief Secretary.

Chidambaram's first choice is said to be P V Bhide, a 1973 batch IAS officer, who is presently the Revenue Secretary. He is, however, the key man in preparation of the Union Budget and as such Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee may not relieve him.

Since the Budget business will not be over by June 30, when Madhukar Gupta is out, Chidambaram may have to consider other options. On his antenna is T Nandakumar (Jharkhand: 1972 batch), who is presently the Agriculture Secretary.

Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai (Kerala: 1972 batch) may get the Defence Secretary's post as he is said to be a favourite of Defence Minister A K Antony.

Those getting the posts of Home and Defence secretaries will automatically get a 2-year tenure that will ensure their continuation beyond their retirement age.

A Delhi Correspondent