Andhra Pradesh

High drama in AP : The Inside story of why the Chief Secretary was shunted out

In order to understand why Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary LV Subramanyam was shunted out rather unceremoniously, you need to rewind to what happened last Tuesday. During a videoconference on Spandana programme to discuss representations received from people for house site pattas, ration cards and pensions, the seniormost bureaucrat in the state reportedly made a remark in YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s presence, that was deemed by many as unnecessary.

“Speed up identification of lands for waste dumping yards otherwise nothing will be left after the largesse of house site distribution,” Subramanyam remarked to the district collectors, according to one of those present at the conference. 

The chief minister took the mike immediately and spoke just one sentence. 

“The work mentioned by Subramanyam Anna is important but house sites are our priority. Concentrate only on that,” said Jagan with a smile. Everyone including Subramanyam too joined in the laughter that followed but the feeling reportedly was a bit uneasy. The meeting ended abruptly.

Also read : The battle between Subramanyam and Prakash

A Vijayawada-based senior political commentator says the incident was a commentary on the growing divide between the head of the government and the head of the bureaucracy in Andhra Pradesh. For quite some time, Jagan has felt that the IAS officers starting with the Chief Secretary have not been in sync with his vision and pace of wanting to do things. 

Sources in Amaravati say the Chief Secretary himself pressed the trigger for his exit. He did so by issuing a showcause notice to Praveen Prakash, Principal Secretary in the CM’s Office on Friday. Praveen Prakash was accused of “grave misconduct” and “wilful insubordination”.  The reason reportedly was introducing items into the Cabinet meeting agenda without following proper procedure and Prakash was asked to respond within seven days.   

Recommended reading : Why Chandrababu will approve of Jagan’s decision

On Monday, the irony was not lost on anyone. The order transferring Subramanyam to the loopline posting as Director General, AP Human Resources Development Institute in Bapatla, was issued in Praveen Prakash’s name. The Institute does not even have proper infrastructure where an officer of Subramanyam’s seniority can work from.

Sources close to the CM say the real reason was the Chief Secretary’s showcause notice to Praveen Prakash. That is because Prakash was moved from his earlier position as Resident Commissioner in New Delhi to Amaravati primarily to speed up the pace of issuing Government Orders.

“So many Government orders are pending. For instance, the CM wanted four Health-related GOs to be issued in the first week of October. Finally they were issued just before Diwali. There is too much lethargy in the bureaucracy. Most officers, despite availaing of HRA for a house in the capital region, leave for Hyderabad on Friday afternoon and rejoin work only on Monday afternoon. It is only after Prakash was brought in that work has got some momentum with GOs being issued on time, directly on the CM’s instructions,” said an officer in the CMO.

The notice to Prakash therefore, was interpreted as an affront to Jagan himself.

Also read : The Three Mistakes of LVS

For sometime now, the buzz in the corridors of power in Amaravati has pointed to a sense of unease. Subramanyam was accused by those close to Jagan of taking the CM lightly because while the 1983 batch IAS officer came with formidable administrative experience, Jagan was seen as someone still learning the ropes. 

There has also been simmering tension between the Chief Secretary and IAS officers and Advisors to the CM, over who should have the last word.  

Subramanyam had a chequered innings as Chief Secretary. He was first bypassed to the top job by then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu because he saw him as someone close to the YSRCP. The Election Commission posted him as Chief Secretary in the run-up to the elections despite objections raised by Naidu. Subsequently, Jagan retained him in the same post till this dramatic afternoon. 

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