The simmering tension in the top echelons of the Andhra Pradesh government has come to the fore. At the heart of it is a tussle for one-upmanship taking place at different levels. The latest episode pertains to Chief Secretary LV Subramanyam issuing a showcause notice to Praveen Prakash, Principal Secretary in the Chief Minister’s office. The reason reportedly is introducing items into the Cabinet meeting agenda without following proper procedure. The New Indian Express said Prakash was reportedly accused of “grave misconduct” and “wilful insubordination”.
This is a first in the history of Andhra Pradesh. Prakash who was Resident Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh, posted in New Delhi during the Telugu Desam regime, was recently brought to Amaravati to the plum post in the CMO. The 1994 batch IAS officer is also accused of routing several files without keeping the Chief Secretary in the loop.
While Prakash has been given a week’s time to reply to the notice, what this exposes is the Jaganmohan Reddy government’s inability to get a grip on the administration even five months after taking charge. Much time and energy has been spent on identifying senior bureaucrats deemed close to Chandrababu Naidu and posting them in loopline assignments.
Two, the sheer number of advisors appointed by Jagan, many of them either retired bureaucrats or journalists from the Sakshi stable, has made the jostling for power more intense. They are seen as wielding too much clout, without the accountability expected of elected representatives and IAS officers. Those in the know say there is therefore more than what meets the eye in the notice to Prakash.
Prakash’s move from Delhi to Amaravati raised eyebrows because he was Naidu’s pointsperson in the national capital and navigated the turbulent period after the TDP withdrew support to the NDA government in 2018. The showcause notice seems to indicate a trust deficit within the seniormost layer of the Andhra bureaucracy.
It is pertinent to remember that Subramanyam became chief secretary under controversial circumstances during the election period. The previous Chief Secretary was accused of being close to Naidu and despite the then CM objecting to Subramanyam, he was appointed to the post. Jagan continued with Subramanyam after he took over.
The notice to Prakash also comes close on the heels of the embarrassment over the leak of the government order on imposing fetters on media reportage. Much before the Jagan cabinet made the GO official, the world came to know about it inviting criticism.