Why Naveen Appointed An Advisor To CMO?

Bhubaneswar: The recent appointment of retired IAS officer, R Balakrishnan as the Chief Adviser to Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has raised several eyebrows in Odisha, especially among the political pundits who have been closely following every minute development in the power corridors of the State.

Balakrishnan’s appointment certainly has come as a surprise at a time when the third floor is allegedly being controlled and managed by CM Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary, VK Pandian. Under such circumstances, Balakrishnan’s role has emerged as a million dollar question which seems to be baffling all and sundry in the State.

“I have been here for last 35 years but I am happy that I have been given a new responsibility. I will try to give my 100 percent,” said Balakrishnan.

Bijay Patnaik, former chief secretary said, “Though CM Naveen  hasn’t appointed any ex-bureaucrat as an advisor since 2000, there is no problem in appointing one. There might be something in the back of Naveen’s mind which will be known at the right time.”

The decision to appoint Balakrishnan as an advisor to the CMO – an aberration never seen in the past 19 years of his rule- also indicates towards a change in the working style of the BJD supremo and CM Naveen Patnaik.

Apart from Pandian, there are several other senior officers in the ‘third floor’ and speculation is now rife over Naveen’s decision to rope in Balakrishnan as an advisor. Many believe that such decision has been taken to provide some respite to VK Pandian who is discharging responsibilities as an administrator and is allegedly managing the internal affairs within the ruling-BJD.

It is also believed that Balakrishna’s appointment can be linked to the fact that the State government may not be keen to induct any senior IAS officer in place of CM Naveen’s principal secretary Rakesh Verma who is now on central deputation.

Whatever be the reason, this has now provided an opportunity to the opposition parties to target the State government.

“CM Naveen is keen to create a coterie which has been there since long. Balakrishnan was secretary with Odisha government for long and he might have been appointed as an advisor to facilitate corruption,” said BJP leader, Lekhashree Samantsinghar.

Congress MLA Suresh Routray said, “Non-Odia officers are exploiting the situation and are acquiring key posts. If such officers cooperate and contribute towards developmental of Odisha it is good or else they should be shown the doors.”

Responding to opposition’s allegations, Rural Development Minister and senior BJD leader, Sushant Singh said “There is workload in CMO and we feel that there is requirement of more officers. Additional manpower will certainly be helpful in streamlining things.”