Rahul baba’s hand in choice of top babu?
By Santwana Bhattacharya
Published: 29th May 2011 12:21:00 AM
NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi may have turned down a Cabinet position but his hand may well be behind the selection of Ajit Kumar Seth as Cabinet Secretary. What makes Seth’s choice surprising is the fact that the 60-year-old bureaucrat, who will succeed K M Chandrasekhar on June 14, has been working in the low-profile job as Secretary, Public Grievances and Coordination in the Cabinet Secretariat. He has not held a secretary-level post in any of the top-notch Union ministries. That somehow goes to reinforce the view that he has had a benefactor, by default.
Two months ago the Amethi MP had asked for more representation from the North in the Prime Minister’s Office and in the top bureaucracy.
A top Congress leader said Rahul felt that no bureaucrats from the South understood “the ground realities of the north’’—a view that found resonance in babudom, where Keralites dominate. The P J Thomas episode was seen as a prime example of the so-called ‘Kerala cartel’ failing to understand the nuances of northern politics. Government sources assert, however, that it was more “a convergence’’ of issues that led to Seth’s appointment; the Uttar Pradesh connection may have helped but his meticulousness and low profile worked in his favour.
Sources said Seth has been discreetly arbitrating disputes between ministries from the Cabinet Secretariat for the last three years—an advantage especially since the Cabinet Secretary’s most taxing job now is to drive the Central agenda through the states.