Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Modi's Man Friday in Gujarat gets one year extension; "good news" for chief secretary

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Man Friday in Gujarat chief minister's office (CMO) K Kailashnathan has got one year extension, dodging rumours that he would sent as governor to a south Indian state, or alternatively would be shifted to Delhi to "serve" the PM. The extension once again suggests that Kailashnathan, who retired two years ago, holds the key in Gujarat's administrative affairs, as Modi's chief contact person in Gandhinagar.
Kailashnathan's extension, say sources, is a "good news" for present Gujarat chief secretary D Jagatheesa Pandian as well. Under criticism from a section of the Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrats, Pandian is being particularly sought to be cornered for his alleged "failure" to revive the premier state public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which was recently forced to drop its expensive oil and gas explorations both in Krishna-Godavari Basin (KG) off Andhra Pradesh coast as well as in Egypt and other countries, where it won bids.
Pandian was GSPC managing-director for most of the last decade, and he backed Modi's 2005 announcement that the GSPC's oil-and-gas KG Basin exploration was 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf), highest by any Indian oil-and-gas company so far. It was later found, however, that the GSPC's exploration was not more than 2 tcf, out of only one third was recoverable.
Pandian
 The Gujarat government has already applied for Pandian's six month extension, a knowledgeable source said, pointing out, "Even the application for a six-month extension to Pandian would not have been possible without Modi's nod. He will certainly get it."
However, the source insisted, this "does not augur well for the person who is the immediate junior of Pandian, GR Aloria, additional chief secretary, home and urban development, who was almost sure to become the chief secretary on Pandian's retirement in May-end 2015."
The sources suspect, Aloria may not become chief secretary despite the fact that he had considerably "improved" his chances recently. He moved against Ford Foundation: Indeed, it was under his direction only, the sources say, the Gujarat home department wrote a letter to the Union home ministry to "investigate" Ford Foundation's funding of prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad's NGO, saying it has helped communal discord.
Aloria
Already, as in charge of finance in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), Aloria worked overtime to acquire land for quickly constructing canals in the Narmada command area, earning goodwill from chief minister Anandiben Patel. The canal work was lying idle for several years, drawing lot of criticism on the Gujarat government from various quarters for several years.
"If Pandian gets six month extension, it means he would finally quit as head of the state administration in November 2015, leaving just eight months as chief secretary", sources said, adding, "If that happens, instead of Aloria, a decision may possibly be taken to install JN Singh, state finance secretary, who is one of most competent bureaucrats, as the next junior to Aloria, as the new chief secretary of Gujarat."

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