2014 redux in 2019: Naveen appoints incumbent CS Padhi as SEC

Since all IAS officials next in seniority are on central deputation, the new CS of the State will be from the 1986 batch and Asit Tripathy leads the contender race

Bhubaneswar: With the appointment of incumbent Chief Secretary (CS) Aditya Prasad Padhi as State Election Commissioner (SEC), Naveen has scripted a 2014 redux in 2019.

Significantly, post return to power in May 2014, CM Naveen Patnaik in July appointed Gokul Pati as new CS,  despite the then incumbent CS Jugal Kishor Mohapatra having two-years left in the service. Incidentally, Mohapatra who took up the central posting as Secretary, Fertilisers and Chemicals, retired in 2016 as Secretary, Rural Development.

Since Elections 2019 were over, and post winning a mandate, the buzz doing round in power circles was Naveen will soon go for a mega re-jig in the bureaucratic platform. It proved prophetically true on the eve of 73rd Independence Day, when Padhi was appointed as SEC today.

The outgoing CS  Padhi, a 1983-batch IAS officer, was due to retire from the services in February 2020.  He took over as CS from Gokul Pati in 2015.

However, all eyes are now on who is going to occupy the high office, post Padhi’s exit?

In fact, the norm is Chief Minister is the appointing authority of CS in a State. And it is only the seniormost IAS cadre officer who will occupy the high office. However, the precedent in Odisha is CM appoints one among the same seniority level officers to the post of CS.

In 2015, Naveen appointed Aditya Padhi as CS, despite Upendranath Behera being ahead of Padhi in seniority.

However, the twist in 2019 is, in the seniority ladder, all senior IAS officers are currently on deputation to Centre.

In the IAS seniority list,  next to Padhi has been Injeti Srinivas (1983), who is now Union Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Similarly, Arun Kumar Panda (1984 batch), next in seniority line, is the Union Secretary Ministry of MSME. The 1985 batch IAS Odisha cadre, Upendra Kumar Singh, is Union Secretary, Water Resources. And 1985 batch IAS Surendra Nath Tripathi is now Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India.

Though the Agriculture Production Commissioner Gagan Kumar Dhal belongs to 1985-batch, he is due for retirement in January 2020.

As a consequence, the State’s new CEO will be from the 1986 IAS batch. And Asit Tripathy, presently Development Commissioner-cum-Additional CS and Chief Administrator KBK, seems to be ahead in the race for the top post, since he is the seniormost in the 1986 batch.

Significantly, 1986- batch L N Gupta, Additional CS, senior to Tripathy, will be retiring this August.