Thursday, December 31, 2015

5th Most Powerful Bureaucrat, 2015: Bengal’s Sanyal, Chhattisgarh’s Aman Singh, Assam’s Bhanu

MGVK Bhanu
THE year 2015 was quite unique, at least for Delhi’s power corridors! The bureaucrats in powerful positions made conscious effort to give an impression that they wield no power at all. The fear has been palpable: If you are seen as a powerful bureaucrat, there are chances that you may be pulled down, and that too to a level where from a return journey is impossible. The fear thus is real. After all, will any finance secretary like to be shifted out to the ministry of minority affairs? BoI which has since 2009 published annual list of 5 Most Powerful Bureaucrats (in August/September every year), based on the feedback of bureaucrats, journalists, political leaders etc. decided to…
delay the release of its 2015 list, precisely because there were few powerful bureaucrats at the Centre. Yet, we have managed to figure out who are the most powerful in the corridors today. In the next few days, the BoI readers will read more about India’s most powerful bureaucrats for the year 2015.
Based on the feedback that we have received, and considering the current trend of bureaucrats voluntarily deciding to move to the states, BoI has spotted a few power-hubs at the state level. Three bureaucrats in the states, who wield immense influence because of their ability to convince the CM on all policy matters, are jointly given the fifth position in BoI Power List, 2015. Those powerful bureaucrats include principal secretary to West Bengal CM, Gautam Sanyal, principal secretary to Chhattisgarh chief minister Aman Kumar Singh and additional chief secretary to Assam CM, MGVK Bhanu.
Sanyal, who was officer on special duty (OSD) to Ms Banerjee when the latter was the union railway minister before becoming the CM, is one of very few examples of a Central Secretariat Service (CSS) officer moving up in the administrative hierarchy so fast. He is now a principal secretary-ranked officer on a contract basis, as he is already retired. "In Rail Bhawan, Sanyal was the bullet train to reach Mamata immediately" BoI wrote in an article dated October 28, 2011 when he had already moved to Kolkata. In Writers’ Building (the one which houses West Bengal CM’s office), Sanyal’s clout only increased.
If Sanyal is highly influential in Kolkata, it’s Aman Kumar Singh, principal secretary to Chhattisgarh CM, in Raipur. Singh is currently principal secretary in the state’s electronics and information technology department, which came into news only this week as the state of Chhattisgarh received the first position for its performance during Digital India Week. But Singh, a former IRS officer of 1995 batch, draws his command because chief minister Raman Singh takes him into confidence in matters related to both policy and politics. Singh left IRS and got absorbed in Chhattisgarh government on a contract basis.
In Assam, it’s 1985 batch IAS MGVK Bhanu who is without doubt the most influential bureaucrat. Originally hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Bhanu was a director in union tourism ministry and then chairman of Tea Board. But his influence grew only in the last couple of years, first as principal secretary and then additional chief secretary to Assam CM. Today, he decides on key appointments in the state, expedites pending projects and fire-fights for CM Tarun Gogoi in each policy matter. The MLAs and even the ministers know, if something is to be executed in their constituency on a fast-tracked manner, the best bridge to convince the CM is Bhanu.


  1. I think the time has come for Government of India to recognise and officially establish Central Secretariat Service (CSS) cadre as organised Group A service.

    CSS officers through their hard work and sincerity have gone up to become Additional Secretary in GOI and Principal Secretary in state.

    Dr. DB Singh in 2015 was appointed as Secretary in Rajya Sabha on APEX scale.

  2. I am very sure in the West Bengal elections in 2016, Mamta Banerjee is sure going to win again a absolute majority.

    Gautam Sanyal is going to remain as the Principal Secretary until 2021. He is known in West Bengal as outstanding and non corrupt civil servant.

  3. Mr Bhanu is a very effective efficient bureaucrat from the Assam cadre. In 2 years time he changed the way Tea Board of india functions. His role in bringing down flash floods in Guwahati in 2015 is commendable. The country needs more bureaucrats like him who can bring about visible change very fast.