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Thakur faces challenge of handling bureaucracy

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

The BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) government has tried to shake up the administrative system by undertaking major reshuffle in 2 5 days of taking over in Himachal Pradesh (HP).

The new leadership faces the challenge of handling the ‘politically tagged bureaucracy’ in HP for effective governance, as a top priority.

Not only that bureaucracy, nursing bitter rivalry within, has been working cross- purposes in HP over the years, some officers have shown more loyalty for the political bosses than the state.

As a result, the state has been witness to ‘unhealthy’ race in bureaucracy for getting key postings in service or even post-retirement, irrespective of merit or seniority.

Some officers go too close to the politicians in this small state, playing up factors other than performance and for this they don’t mind using power to settle personal scores. That’s one reason that the change of political power in HP now means complete shuffle of officers.

The Congress and BJP have been coming to power in HP alternatively since 1985.

For the past two decades, two former Chief Ministers, Virbhadra Singh (Congress) and Prem Kumar Dhumal (BJP) have alternated power.

Over a period, many officers became their personal loyalists and even a party in their ‘personalised political fight’.

What spoke more about this was the appointment of retired IAS officers as Principal Private Secretary and Principal Secretary to CM- two key positions-in previous Congress regime, which spoil the administrative environs even more.

Undoubtedly, while the unexpected outcome of 2017 Assembly polls left officers at all rungs in HP perplexed as they do not enjoy equation with present CM, who along with half of the cabinet, is himself new to the big administrative responsibility.

“I am not in a hurry. I am trying to understand the functioning,” CM Jai Ram Thakur said in an informal chat with mediapersons.

So far, Thakur has tried to put things in perspective by bringing officers, who were ignored in previous Congress government despite seniority, to the front line.

His decision to post 1982 batch IAS officer, VineetChaudhary as Chief Secretary has gone down well. Chaudhary was sidelined in previous Congress regime, which had appointed 1983 batch officer, VC Pharka as CS, superseding him and five other officers.

At a time, little over 100 IAS officers are serving in HP, excluding those on Central deputation.

A battery of officers for the field comes from Himachal Pradesh Administrative Services (HPAS).

“We never saw any political divide in official circles till 90s. The change in government did not necessitate administrative reshuffle in those times,” shared some retired officers.

“The new CM faces a tough task of restoring the administrative decorum in the state, which has gone for a six, for good governance,” they opined.