Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha’s extended term will end on June 12. Sinha was appointed as cabinet secretary for a fixed term of two years in 2015 and was given an extension in 2017. Now that his tenure ends in the month of June this year, the question doing round the corner is who will be the next top civil servant? Will the principle of seniority be again in the priority as the government begin it’s hunt to for a new Cabinet Secretary?
Among other probables, there is a possibility that Sinha, an Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer, may be given another extension as we all know, two of Sinha’s predecessors, KM Chandrasekhar (2007-11) and Ajit K Seth (2011-15) got four years each. But this could may come out to be only a speculation because the government did not extend the tenure of foreign secretary S Jaishankar in January.
Now, if P.K. Sinha doesn’t get an extension, who all are the probables for the top post? Situation predicts that the new CS is likely to be from the 1980 or 1981 batch of IAS and picking a younger officer from the 1982 batch may boomerang for the government and it may create flutter in the rank & file of the bureaucracy. So, the prime minister has to do some brainstorming session with his trusted lieutenants before picking a name for the top beaurocrat.
1981 batch officer Rajive Kumar also figures in the list because the way he was picked as UP chief secretary after BJP won the state speaks about his political clout.
Commerce Secretary and the only woman contender Rita A Teaotia name is also being discussed for the top civil servant position.
The senior most of the lot Petroleum Secretary, Kapil Dev Tripathy, stands a good chance as he would be the last one from the 1980 batch to retire. This simple fact may boost his prospect. However, Union I&B Secretary Narendra Kumar Sinha is ahead of Tripathy on the seniority list, but he would retire 13 days ahead of the completion of PK Sinha’s tenure in the month of June.
HRD Secretary Anil Swarup and Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey also feature on the list of probables.
To top it all, many in the power corridors speculate that PM Narendra Modi, may handpick Adhia as they had a working relationship right from Modi’s Gujarat days. However, NaMo administration remains unpredictable in its selection of top officers. So even if Adhia is seen as a strong arm of the administration, one can never be sure about his appointment to the top post.