State government's chief secretary Subhashchandra Kuntia will be retiring in November and the corridors of power are abuzz with who will be the possible successor. Sources say there will be a straight competition between current additional chief secretary K Ratnaprabha and Development Commissioner TM Vijaybhaskar to occupy the highest post, reports Kannada Prabha. Ratnaprabha is two years younger in age and one year junior in IAS service from Vijaybhaskar. But sources say, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is not interested in making Ratnaprabha, the chief secretary.

It can be recalled here that after Aravinad Jadhav’s retirement, it was almost certain that Ratnaprabha would be the next chief secretary. A woman, especially a Dalit woman becoming the chief secretary was an interesting proposition in the IAS circles. However, the two strong lobbies in IAS worked against each other and the behind-the-scene politics resulted in getting Subhashchandra Kuntia from the Centre, depriving Ratnaprabha the opportunity. She had openly expressed her disappointment, it is reported. The issue was used politically too. BJP State president BS Yeddyurappa had written an open letter to Siddaramaiah criticising him for not appointing Ratnaprabha to the post. Hence, for Siddaramaiah it has turned into a political issue to consider or reject Ratnaprabha for the post.  

After Kuntia, Ratnaprabha is in the senior position. She is the only officer in the State from 1981 batch. From 1982 batch SK Pattanaiak and Latha Krishnarao are both in Central service. In the absence of lobbying or politics Ratnaprabha should get the post.

However, chief minister Siddramaiah may not consider Ratnaprabha's candidature, reports Kannada Prabha. Instead, he may consider SK pattanaik or Latha Krishna Rao. Also, he may opt for 1983 batch senior most and current Development Commissioner TM Vijayabhaskar. He is going to retire next 2021 January. Hence Siddaramaiah is keen on appointing him, say sources.

However, if at all he chooses Vijay Bhaskar over Ratnaprabha, Siddaramaiah will face the allegations of ignoring a dalit woman officer to the top post. Also Ratnaprabha may not take it easy, she may approach Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or may resign and cause embarrassment to the State. This could prove advantageous for BJP. Considering all these aspects, discussions are already on at the government circles regarding who is going to be the next chief secretary.

Meanwhile, speculations are rife that if Siddaramaiah will appoint a woman DIG for the State and create history. Current DIG RK Dutta is retiring this month end. To take his post, DGP Fire Brigade Neelamani N Raju, DGP, CID, Kishorechandra, and DGP, Anti-Corruption Bureau MN Reddy are in the race. Neelamani and Reddy have three years of service and Kishorechandra has one year.

It can be recalled here that eight months ago when Omprakash retired, there was a stiff competition for the post. But Siddaramaiah invited RK Dutta from the Central service to take over. This time the government has two challenges. Kishorechandra and Neelamani are both Kannadigas. Neelamani will also be the first woman DIG, if at all she is chosen. If political lobbying wins, there are chances of Neelamani losing. But if Siddaramaiah favours regionality, Kishorchandra may win. Hence it’s a tough decision for Siddaramaiah.

It is said that Neelamani N Raju who was in Central service for over a decade returned to the State with an eye on DG-IG post. She is also the senior most officer. But she lacks strong political backing. Though her husband was the chief secretary to Siddaramaiah, it is not certain if he will favour her. She is known as a strict officer. 

Kishorechandra is from Mysuru and belongs to Vokkaliga community. Chances of Vokkaliga swamis and political leaders lobbying for him are very high. MN Reddi though younger to the other two, is said to be strong in political backing.  Urban Development Minister KJ George and Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy are both strong supporters to him, it is reported. However, in case he is appointed, the other two may move the court.

Amidst all this there is also a possibility of RK Dutta’s term being extended. It is said that while appointing him in February, the Chief Minister had reportedly assured him an extension of three months. However, it is unconfirmed.