The tenure of Chief Secretary D.K. Jain has been extended by six months. The extension was approved by the Centre last week and formal orders were issued on Thursday, which was to have been his last day in office.
The extension to the 1983 batch IAS officer is to secure continuity in a year Maharashtra will go to polls, even as it faces an unprecedented drought-like situation, senior officials said. “The Government was keen to maintain an administrative continuity in a year we are going to polls and face a drought-like situation. This is completely a prerogative of the Government on who it wants to retain or promote. I am happy to do the job for another six months,” Mr. Jain told The Hindu .
In the past, chief secretary J.K. Banthia, was given a six-month extension in 2013, also because of drought-like situation in the State. The government has preferred to grant an extension to Mr. Jain instead of promoting two other senior bureaucrats — Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Finance, U.P.S. Madan, and ACS, Relief and Rehabilitation, Medha Gadgil. The other contender was Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who is due for retirement in September 2019.
While the extension remains a prerogative of the Chief Minister, senior secretaries said giving preference to seniority in promotions for important assignments sets the right precedent. “There are larger political forces at play here with the Chief Minister clearly sidelining three other contenders, who were equally qualified to do the job. This is merely not a question of continuity but is linked to the elections,” said a senior bureaucrat. Sources said the CM is also likely to announce replacements in the Home and Urban Development Department (UDD-1) next week.