Probables fret as Hooda's top brass get extensions

Chandigarh, July 6 (IANS) They were among the probables, front-runners and strong contenders. But in the race for two of Haryana's top jobs, some senior bureaucrats find themselves in a nowhere land with Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda deciding to retain the incumbents.

With Chief Secretary P.K. Chaudhary getting a six-month extension and Hooda's principal secretary Chhatar Singh getting another three months (he got a three-month extension in April), the race for these jobs by strong contenders has ended for now.

In the present set-up, there are eight officers in the rank of additional chief secretary who were in contention after Chaudhary's expected retirement June 30. The front-runners included Krishna Mohan and S.C. Chaudhary. Mohan will retire during Chaudhary's extended tenure.

Others included Shakuntla Jakhu, Ajit M. Sharan, Ramendra Jakhu, Samir Mathur, P.K. Gupta and K.K. Jalan. Another officer, Harbaksh Singh, died last month.

Chaudhary, the brother-in-law of Haryana's powerful Industries and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Surjewala, will continue in office at least till December-end.

Hooda's principal secretary Chhatar Singh has got a second three-month extension. He was given a three-month extension in April.

The name of senior IAS officer S.S. Dhillon was being mentioned in political circles for the principal secretary's job. However, he continues to be additional principal secretary.

Another strong contender, K.K. Khandelwal, who is also an additional principal secretary, will also have to wait for now.

Hooda's office and government now have quite a handful of retired officers or those on extension.

Among them is Hooda's principal OSD (officer on special duty) M.S. Chopra. Another re-employed OSD is B.R. Beri. Shadi Lal Kapoor is another re-employed person in the chief minister's office.

Another retired officer in the chief minister's office is P.V. Rathee, the principal advisor to Hooda on home and security matters. Rathee had retired as director general of police.

Hooda has also appointed K.V. Singh as OSD-media in his office.

Some retired bureaucrats considered close to Hooda have been accommodated as state information commissioners or in other posts.

These include former chief secretary Naresh Gulati and his wife Urvashi Gulati (chief information commissioner and information commissioner respectively), R.N. Prasher (chairman, Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission) and Dharam Vir (state election commissioner).

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

--Indo-Asian News Service

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