Why Kareer and not Saunik?
Days have passed and no media is ready to answer this main political move that went under-noticed, under-discussed in Maharashtra. Every Tom, Dick and Harry including me are debating about the #BanningMaldives issue and promoting our very own Lakshadweep, but no one especially in the political circle of Maharashtra, is answering the biggest question-Why Dr Nitin Kareer as the new Chief Secretary of Maharashtra State and why there was no extension was given to the outgoing CS–Manoj Saunik?
I tried to find a few answers to this. One, ex- CS Manoj Saunik during his days as a bureaucrat, then senior bureaucrat and even as the Chief Secretary was known to be a ‘bindhaas’, helpful and a ‘dildar’ officer. His larger than life image was seen all along in his work too. Two, he has sincerely helped everyone from bureaucrats to MLAs to all the Ministers under whom he served till the day he retired. Being a ‘Bihari’ officer he never saw the last name when anyone went to him for work, a very rare quality seen in Bihari cadre officers; mind you, those who don’t know, this did exist in Maharashtra. It was there in the IAS and in the IPS it was way too strong till about a year ago! Anyway, then what went wrong? In spite of being so good and efficient, why wasn’t Saunik given an extension of minimum 3 months as the CS ?
We have a tradition in Maharashtra that generally the Chief Minister puts in a word in Delhi and the file of extension gets signed. In Mr. Saunik’s case, CM Eknath Shinde had put in a favourable word too and was sure to get the extension of minimum 3 months tenure. Here on the other hand, Saunik too, was super confident that his extension will be done, hence he also did not apply to any post-retirement post too, which is again a norm here in Maharashtra. But then, no extension was granted! Why such an abrupt end to Mr. Saunik’s career? If the likes of Ajoy Mehta and Sanjay Kumar got extensions as Chief Secretaries, when another IAS like Radheysham Mopalwar (friend of Saunik) could get it for years as MD MSRDC, why not a man of Saunik’s stature could get an extension of at least minimum 3 months and that too after having CM’s support? But going by the recent past records of ex Chief Secretaries neither Manukumar Shrivastava nor Debasish Chakraborty were given extensions. But both got post retirement jobs. One is in the MAT and the other one is the Commissioner at the Right to Services. By the way, Manoj Saunik shared excellent relations with the Chief Minister, Dy CM Pawar, and everyone around unlike his friend Mopalwar who had to go because of his strenuous relations with DOUBLE A.
On the other hand when I thought that Mr. Manoj Saunik had missed the bus, it would be his wife Sujata, who would have the honour of being the first women Chief Secretary of our state. But then, I remembered the time of Megha Gadgil and knew immediately that it wouldn’t be done for a long tenure as it is June 2025 when Sujata Saunik retires; if it has to happen, it will happen for Sujata Saunik. In the meanwhile, to answer the query and what the rumour mill has to say, is that, it was the BJP who was a little miffed with Manoj Saunik’s file signing spree. Even though the CM had batted for Manoj Saunik to become the next CS, at the end, in Delhi, it was the BJP’s vote that mattered and it was curtains for Manoj Saunik.
I can draw a lot of political learning from this. Those who keep cribbing that any X, Y or Z is close to the Centre, mind you, this move of Saunik not able to get the extension has proved that it is Maharashtra BJP ‘s final word which gets counted at the end for the Center. Take a hint from this!
Now why Dr Nitin Kareer? If Manoj Saunik was fire when it came to work, Kareer is as calm as water. But remember, calm waters run deep. Both are extremely hard-working, have excellent command over administration and above all, tremendous work experience. In fact when it comes to the mention of Dr. Nitin Kareer no one can pin point a finger at him when the word ‘corruption’ is uttered. The other day when I called him up to congratulate him on becoming the CS, I told him, “Sir, I wanted you to see you as the BMC Commissioner first and then the CS. It is Mumbai’s loss but now the state’s gain since you are the CS”. Dr KAreer replied, “not everything is in our hands Vikrant, sometimes you have to leave things and move forward”. These same words will be once again told to Bhushan Gagrani if he does not become the BMC Commissioner some day soon now.
Another gossip and facts in between…
My source said it will be Sujata Saunik who will be the next CS after Dr Nitin Kareer retires…. But then hang on….There is yet another bureaucrat who desperately wants to break the queue and become the Chief Secretary. He has already made huge promises (God knows why the number Rs. 200 crores is coming) to someone big but he has only one condition. No extension to be granted to Dr Nitin Kareer after March’24 when he retires. But I am sorry this ‘another bureaucrat’ for breaking your heart, all 3 the Chief Minister, and both the DCM’s have given a kind of guarantee to Kareer that both the Loksabha and Vidhansabha and a period of 2 months extra of 2024, it will be only Kareer as the Chief Secretary and yes, to one more person–Rashmi Shukla. Yes, both these new bosses of Maharashtra are coming with a guarantee pack!
Now one very interesting thing came up the day Dr Nitin Kareer became the Chief Secretary. Who will be the President of IAS wives Association of Maharashtra, since we all know Dr Nitin Kareer is single again now. My source says the wife of the senior most officer of the 1988 batch, will be the new president. My money is on Valsa Singh Nair. But then apart from Ashish Kumar Singh being from the 1988 batch, there are the other batch mates too namely Apurva Chandra, Arvind Singh, Rajiv Jalota, Amitabh Joshi, Dr Sanjay Chahande and Rajesh Kumar whose wives can become the President of this Association. By the way, this ‘ladies club’ is damn fun. They organise nice functions, but the gossip here I get is too good. One of the best gossip amongst the ladies is, when the time comes for the Chief Secretary to retire, the next ‘possible’ CS’s wife will butter the outgoing president and his wife so much that private lunches and parties are held just to please them. They think nobody’s watching, but the rest of the ladies have their laughs and tell me what all is done to ‘butter’ the boss’s wife…On this some other time…
Vikrant Hemant Joshi.