Even though transfers in government postings are common, the replacement of Coal Secretary Sumanta Chaudhari with Anil Kumar Jain, a 1986 batch officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, has sent shock waves among the top bureaucrats.
The transfer was effected when the corporate world was upbeat over Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement reducing the corporate tax.
The sudden jolt led to anxiety when it became clear that the one line order, on the 1985 batch IAS officer, didn’t allot him an alternative posting. Neither was he repatriated to his home cadre of West Bengal nor did the order mention if he was placed on the waiting list.
The order came about when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was in the national capital to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah. Political grapevine has it that Mamata sought the services of Chaudhari in place of incumbent chief secretary Malay Kumar De, who is scheduled to retire shortly.
But that was rejected by several senior officers of the West Bengal cadre who believe that neither Didi is keen to make Chaudhuri the chief secretary nor is Chaudhari interested in quitting Delhi just 16 months ahead of his superannuation.
Even though this particular change remains shrouded in mystery, the Union coal ministry has been a witness to such abrupt exits in the past as well. Chaudhuri served as coal secretary for ten months whereas his predecessor Inderjit Singh had less than five month’s tenure in the ministry.
It looks like the events at the coal ministry during the UPA tenure continue to cast its shadow on the coal ministry leaving everyone clueless about frequent unexplained exits.