In an attempt to offset criticism for ‘poor’ delivery in the last five years, Jammu and Kashmir’s beleaguered Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is understood to be mulling a major reshuffle in the middle and top rungs of his bureaucracy and the civil administration.

The National Conference (NC) cadre, according to the well-placed political sources, has mounted pressure on Mr. Abdullah for a reshuffle in bureaucracy. They have also spoken of alleged “political ambitions” of some senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) officers and held them responsible for the ruling coalition’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections.

While the NC and Congress drew a blank, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged three seats each.

Those being assailed by the NC cadre in a series of introspection sessions include Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday, whose daughter Sehar Iqbal contested the Assembly elections on a PDP’s ticket in 2008. Mr. Khanday served as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in the PDP-Congress coalition government in 2003-04.

Sources told The Hindu that the Cabinet could sanction top-level changes in the State bureaucracy and the civil administration anytime this month. “Some key changes are expected even in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow [Wednesday]”, said a highly-placed source.

A 1977-batch IAS officer, Mr. Khanday is tipped to be the new Director-General of Institute of Management and Public Administration. A number of Ministers, both of the NC and the Congress, are reportedly projecting 1984-batch IAS officer Brij Raj Sharma as the new Chief Secretary. Mr. Sharma is Principal Secretary of Planning and Development.

However, Mr. Sharma is junior to nine IAS officers and yet to be elevated to the rank of Financial Commissioner (FC). But the 54-year-old bureaucrat has certain advantages: all but one of his competitors reach retirement age by the end of next year; unlike many of his seniors, he has never gotten entangled in controversy.

Madhav Lal, Parvez Dewan (1977), Anil Goswami and Pankaj Jain (1978) are currently Secretaries in the Union Government. None of them is reportedly interested in returning to the State. The 1979-batch IAS officers Arun Kumar and his wife Sonali Kumar hold the rank of FC in the State government but are unlikely to be chosen for the top slot on account of Mr. Kumar’s controversial statement that allegedly led to communal strife in 2008.

An attempt to offset criticism for ‘poor’ delivery in the last five years