In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg was shunted out of the Finance Ministry and appointed as the Power Secretary this week. The July 24 rejig raised eyebrows as Garg's transfer was seen as a demotion with designation of Finance Secretary being one of the most coveted positions in bureaucratic circles. Atanu Chakraborty, the former Secretary for the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), was named the Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs.
On July 25, Garg made an announcement that gave a clear indication of he being miffed over his transfer from the Finance Ministry. He said he has applied for voluntary retirement from service. However, in a statement later to the reporters after taking charge of the Power Ministry, he cleared the air. Here's what he said:
"I joined today from the Ministry of Finance to Power. The proposal that I would take VRS, was discussed with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on July 18. Much before the transfer order. There is no connection with that (VRS)."
When asked about the reasons for putting in his papers ahead of his superannuation, Garg remained tight-lipped. This is all he said in response:
"Let's rest that matter as that was discussed and I conveyed my decision much before. So, this move has nothing to do with it."
The former finance secretary was also questioned about the Power Ministry transfer lowering his stature. Here's what he said:
"We should not discuss these issues. It is the government's prerogative to decide...all positions of secretary are equal. If seen from the challenges point of view, the Power Ministry has a very big challenge. So I don't think there is any meaning to it."
Garg is the first Finance Secretary to apply for VRS from service in 19 years. If his request is accepted, he will leave service more than a year before his scheduled retirement on October 31, 2020.
It is not the first such incident. In November 2000, E.A.S. Sarma, who was Economic Affairs Secretary in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was moved to Coal Ministry and instead of taking up that post, retired voluntarily, a year and two months before his superannuation date.
During his 30-year-long service, 1983 batch IAS officer held various important assignments including administrative postings in his home state of Rajasthan. He had also worked in the central government in various capacities. He was posted as Director of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry from May 2000 to September 2003. Later, he took over as Joint Secretary in the Department of Expenditure in the Ministry and continued to hold that position till May 2005. He has also worked in the Cabinet Secretariat where he held the position of Joint Secretary/Additional Secretary from February 2012 to December 2013.
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