Vini Mahajan Can Be Next Cabinet Secretary of the Country….

NEW DELHI : A lot of whispering can be seen among the bureaucracy sitting in the corridors of power of the capital, especially in the North and South Block, regarding the successor of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, who is retiring in August. Many speculations are being made regarding the names of the future Cabinet Secretaries.
Three senior IAS officers are in the race for this post.
Current Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will create history when he leaves the post at the end of his tenure in August. The 1982 batch Jharkhand cadre officer would then be India’s longest serving Cabinet Secretary. He will break the record of his predecessor PK Sinha, who held the post for a little over four years.
If Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays attention to any of them, then the officers in the race to take over from Mr Gauba can also create history. A senior IAS officer said – Modi is known for shocking decisions. Perhaps it would not be surprising if some unique decision is taken in the matter of Cabinet Secretary also. The three officers under consideration for the post of Cabinet Secretary are from the 1987 batch – Finance Secretary TV Somanathan, Gujarat Chief Secretary Raj Kumar and Jal Shakti Secretary Vini Mahajan.
Among the three is an officer ace who was ousted from the service early in his career after a bitter fight with his then political boss J Jayalalitha, although Jayalalitha stubbornly did not accept his resignation. TV Somanathan, fondly known as TVS by his colleagues. Mr Somanathan, a 1987 batch IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, was appointed Finance Secretary at the Center by the PM-led Cabinet Committee on Appointments (CCA) in April 2021.
TVS’s financial acumen is so respected that the former head of the World Bank requested then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to extend service to TVS. However, TVS still had many years of service left. Dr. Singh accepted his request. This could be the main reason why Prime Minister Modi, as he makes the economy and job creation the focus of a possible third term, may focus on the current Finance Secretary.
Interestingly, Mr. Somanathan, known for his impeccable integrity, had a bitter feud with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha early in his career. He had ordered a vigilance inquiry into a matter handled by him. TVS’s order angered the Chief Minister so much that she even refused to release him from the state for central deputation. The Finance Secretary impressed his colleagues by speaking in pure Hindi in the last comprehensive presentation to the Cabinet by all Secretaries.
According to sources, another candidate for the top post is Raj Kumar, chief secretary of PM Modi’s home state Gujarat. Mr Kumar came on central deputation in 2015, a few months after PM Modi took charge at the Centre. Mr Kumar’s last posting in the Central Government was extremely challenging and sensitive – he was Secretary, Defense Production, in the Ministry of Defence. After an excellent stint at the Centre, he returned to his parent cadre Gujarat in 2021. After his return, the Gujarat government gave him the charge of the sensitive Home Department.
In January last year, he was promoted to the post of Chief Secretary. Known as a well-rounded bureaucrat, Mr Kumar is from Badaun in UP. According to his batch mates, a big factor in his favor, far more than others, is the underlying confidence that the Prime Minister has expressed in him. The third official in the race, and perhaps in the order of precedence, is Vini Mahajan. If the Prime Minister appoints her, it will make history as she will be India’s first woman Cabinet Secretary since the post was created before independence.
Vini Mahajan is also from the same IAS batch. She was the Chief Secretary of the highly sensitive border state of Punjab, which was her home cadre. The officer, considered close to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was removed by the state Congress leadership following a midnight coup against his own government.
Second generation bureaucrat Vini Mahajan is the daughter of senior Punjab IAS officer BB Mahajan. Bibi Mahajan has been Secretary in the Food Ministry at the Centre. A dedicated, honest bureaucrat, she is known for her rational thinking and systematic planning. Ms Mahajan, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kolkata, is the only woman with extensive experience in the functioning of the Prime Minister’s Office. Mahajan has worked in Manmohan Singh’s PMO for a long time. All three are first-time IAS officers, all three are the youngest in their batch and two of them have been Chief Secretaries. Also, all three of them are known for being very clean.
(Bureau Report with Media Inputs).

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