Thursday, May 31, 2012

Perti Continues: Why coalgate-hit govt needs this officer in coal ministry

IN AN unusual move, but not the first, 1977 batch Assam cadre IAS Alok Perti has been retained in the same coal ministry where he has retired as secretary. Perti has been appointed as advisor to coal ministry for three months till the end of August and he will continue to enjoy the rank and pay of ...
secretary to government of India.
SK Srivastava, Perti’s one batch junior from the same ministry, is taking over the hot seat of the coal ministry which has recently been hit by a leaked draft report of CAG which reportedly rapped the government for allocating coal blocks to private firms without auction. And then, anti-corruption civil society group, Team Anna, personally attacked Prime Minister, and those who accompanied PM in the flight from Myanmar said, PM turned highly emotional as his personal integrity was questioned, perhaps for the first time during his 41-year-long career in government. Manmohan Singh, an economist by training, joined the ministry of commerce in 1971 and remained a bureaucrat till 1991 when he was made the country’s finance minister.
But will Perti succeed defending the PM? Here are five factors why Perti will continue to be a quality asset for coal ministry, and for that matter to UPA-II.
1. First, Perti has been in the ministry of coal from October 1, 2009, first as additional secretary, then special secretary and finally secretary. That means he is one of the very few officers who understand the complex process of giving coal blocks to private parties, and also why the government did not auction those.
2. Second, as the secretary, Perti’s performance was outstanding and he even acted as a fire-fighter during the turbulent phase post leaking of the CAG draft report.
3. Perti enjoys an excellent rapport with the coal minister Shriprakash Jaiswal who even wanted an extension for the officer. But the Appointments Committee of Cabinet which had earlier given an extension to DEA secretary R Gopalan for three months, became cautious and appointed him as an adviser instead.
4. Those who are in the know suggest CAG Vinod Rai began to train his gun at PMO after Prime Minister criticized him for talking to media. His relationship with the PMO soured further when he dragged the Prime Minister’s Office to the Commonwealth Games controversy. Rai was also confronted by Congress MPs in the JPC during the 2G spectrum probe. Now Perti is supposed to defend the coal ministry which was directly handled by PM during UPA-I.
5. Perti and new secretary Srivastava are contemporaries from the same cadre. They are likely to be on the same page on the ministry’s next moves. Neither of them is an Assamese, but both being Assam cadre officers, they can, if needed, whisper to each other in Assamese.

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