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Read between lines: Abrupt Secretary-level reshuffle right ahead of LS Polls?

By Rakesh Ranjan- 05 Mar 2024
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New Delhi (05.03.2024): An abrupt but minor reshuffle of Union secretaries effected last night astounded all and sundry both inside and outside the system. As a quick response to the development, senior officers across services, batches and cadres were curious that what led to this astonishing development ahead of LS Polls. 
It assumes significant at a time when NaMo administration appears confident of securing third term in a row which would set the momentum to find next Union Home and Cabinet Secretaries after they complete their extended terms in August this year. 
Union Secretary for Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Manoj Joshi (IAS: 1989: KL) was laterally shifted as Secretary, Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development.  The abrupt reshuffle is marked by two prominent aspects. First, it appears more of a lateral shift necessitating an ad hoc arrangement which also signals another round of Secretary-level reshuffle right before Lok Sabha elections are announced. Secondly, it appears a course correction of previous decision ensuring Nidhi Khare (IAS: 1992: JH) a better portfolio as next Consumer Affairs Secretary vice Rohit Kumar Singh (IAS: 1989: RJ) retiring this month end.
Assigning additional charge of Secretary, MoHUA to Anurag Jain (IAS: 1989: MP) till the appointment of a regular incumbent is seen as an indicator that Jain, a former PMO official, continues to carry the trust of the establishment.
Still, it remains a puzzle as why MoHUA was set under a transition right ahead of the LS Polls; a key ministry steering the ambitious Central Vista project and Swachh Survekshan, the world’s largest urban sanitation and cleanliness survey since 2016. Whatever the reason is, the reshuffle also casts shadow, for now, over the ongoing selection process of Director (Project) and Director (Technical) in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
(By Rakesh Ranjan)

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