Gautam Sanyal, a Central secretariat service officer, is the new poster boy of India’s babudom. Till a few months ago, he was the all-powerful OSD to Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee. But after Ms Banerjee became chief minister of West Bengal, Sanyal too took a flight to Kolkata and became the most important officer in Bengal’s power corridors giving heartburns to many IAS officers. The IAS babus could not even believe that a CSS officer at the rank of a joint secretary was actually dominating the IAS. There were reports that the state chief secretary was reluctant to appoint him as principal secretary to CM as he was not so high in the seniority list.
According to reports, Sanyal is now given one year’s extension after his retirement making him probably the first retired bureaucrat to head the chief minister’s office in Kolkata. There were rumours that Sanjay Mitra, former PMO official would move to chief minister’s office as secretary to CM after Sanyal’s retirement. But that did not happen. Sanyal became Mamata’s close confidante when she was the railway minister in during the NDA government. He continued to enjoy her trusts in UPA-II as well. In Rail Bhawan, Sanyal was the bullet train to reach Mamata immediately.
In fact, Gautam Sanyal to Mamata is what Pulok Chatterji is to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Chatterji, for example, is so close to Sonia Gandhi that he was recalled mid-way from his Washington DC posting in World Bank to take over as principal secretary to PM after it was realized that a man close to 10 Janpath should anchor the PMO and bridge the gap between the government and the Congress party. Sanyal is undoubtedly Mamata’s Pulok.
Those who became secretary to West Bengal chief minister in the past included veteran bureaucrats like Bhaskar Ghose (later become information and broadcasting secretary), Subir Dutta (later became Union defence secretary) and SN Menon (became Union commerce secretary).