Mrunal Manmay Dash

With only around a month to go before the current Odisha Chief Secretary (CS) Suresh Chandra Mohapatra’s tenure comes to an end, a lot of speculations are doing rounds.

Government’s go-to man, Mohapatra’s tenure will end on February 28 this year.

He is currently on a second extension as the Odisha government has already extended his tenure twice by six months each after his retirement in 2022.

Now speculations are doing rounds with some predicting Mohapatra might get another extension, while some others are batting for a new CS.

If not Mohapatra, then who?

To answer that question we will have to wait for a month more. But if rumours are to be believed, there are some probable names that might get the nod of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Some of the probable names in the race for the new CS are Pradeep Kumar Jena, Pradipta Mohapatra, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Rajesh Verma, CJ Venugopal, Rajkumar Sharma, Nikunja Kishore Sundaray, Mona Sharma among others.

While 1987 batch IAS Tuhin Kanta Pandey and Rajesh Verma are currently on Central deputation, it is said that they might get a call from the Odisha government. Similarly, Venugopal and Pradipta Mohapatra both from 1988 batch and Mona Sharma and Pradeep Jena from 1989 batch, who are working in Odisha, are also in the race.

With Suresh Mohapatra getting two consecutive extensions after his retirement, voices in the bureaucratic corridors are getting shriller questioning - if other officers in Odisha are inefficient for the top job.

People are even of the opinion that the job of the top bureaucrat always goes to the person most loyal to the third floor in the State Secretariat that houses the Chief Minister and the 5T Secretary's offices. So it may not be an exaggeration if Suresh Mohapatra is given a third extension.

Commenting on the matter, senior journalist Rabi Das said, “It all boils down to who has the best equation with the Chief Minister. The officer who worked exactly as the government wants will enjoy the privileges. It reeks of vested interest of power-hungry people.”

“Mohapatra’s extension sets a bad precedence. It will force others to believe that to get more privileges from the government one has to get closer to the third floor. It will definitely put an adverse effect on the officers,” opined former Chief Secretary, Sahadev Sahu.

(Reported By Harihar Chand, OTV)