Top Bureaucrat Recalls Experiences On Sunrise State

Former Chief Secretary of AP <a href="">IYR Krishna Rao</a> - Sakshi Post

The book Navyandhra: My Journey, authored by former Chief Secretary and eminent bureaucrat IYR Krishna Rao sheds light on several key aspects of administrative and political history of Andhra Pradesh of recent years. The book chronicles some of the most critical developments which followed the bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh including how he became Chief Secretary, thorny division issues, Pratyush Sinha Committee reports, Hudhud cyclone, his relationship with Chief Ministers of AP and Telangana and a host of other important topics.

One gains valuable insights into controversial topics such as Amaravati (incidentally the former bureaucrat has authored a separate book on the subject, power purchase agreements, his tenure as Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA) among others.

The book is dedicated to two highly devoted officers who are held in high regard by Krishna Rao, Chandana Khan and Murali Sagar. Ajeya Kallam, the former Chief Secretary and a close associate of the author, wrote the introduction, in which he characterised the book as a chronicle of various developments which took place during IYR Krishna Rao's tenure as a top-notch official.

M. Gopalakrishna, another illustrious bureaucrat and former Chief Secretary, penned the foreword in which, he described the books as a useful addition to the records of contemporary administrative and political history of Andhra Pradesh.

Sakshi Post feels privileged to publish this distinguished official's forthright account of some of the most critical developments of contemporary times, in a serial manner. The first chapter outlines the developments leading to his elevation as Chief Secretary of the State.

Chapter 1: How I Became the Chief Secretary

By November 2012, when Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the possibility opened up for me to become the chief secretary of the state. Mrs Minnie Matthew, who was the then chief secretary, was retiring in January 2013. I was very much in the zone of consideration for the post. There was an issue with Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy which I thought I needed to sort out before he takes a view on the successor to Mrs Minnie Matthew.

The issue with Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy relates to the period when I was Executive Officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. I became EO TTD in 2009 and continued there till 2011. In November 2010, Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy became Chief Minister and from then there were rumours in Tirupati that I would be shifted shortly. On one or two occasions when I met him, I could understand from his body language that he was not comfortable about my continuation there. As rumoured, I was transferred on June 16, 2011 from TTD and posted to the labour department which till then was headed by an officer of the rank of secretary. I was by then in the cadre of senior principal secretary and on the verge of promotion as special chief secretary. When I personally met Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy and mentioned this he was good enough to accommodate me as Principal Secretary, Marketing and Cooperation though it was also not appropriate for the level of my seniority.

The background to Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy’s attitude towards me could be an incident which happened when he was Speaker of the Assembly and I was the EO, TTD. There was one Sivakumar Reddy who was the additional vigilance and security officer working in TTD responsible for the temples located in Tirupati. Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy requested me over telephone to post him uphill at Tirumala. There were some issues related to this and I felt it was not desirable to post him at Tirumala. Since the request was from the Speaker of the Assembly I thought it fit to personally meet him and explain the issues. Accordingly I took an appointment and met him at Hyderabad and explained my point of view. He listened without any comments and I thought he was satisfied with the information I furnished. But in retrospect I could realise he did not take to it kindly.

Subsequently he along with Union minister Sri P. Chidambaram came to Tirumala and spent some quality time together and at that time I did take care of their visit as required according to protocol. Within a few days of this meeting Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy was chosen by the Congress high command to be the Chief Minister. One can very well understand what transpired between them at Tirumala.

When my name was in the zone of consideration for chief secretary, I thought I need to get the issues sorted out so that he will not be prejudiced by the earlier incident. An important minister in the State cabinet, who was also close to the Chief Minister, happened to be a junior of mine in the university. I approached him to speak to the Chief Minister and clarify the matter. He did accordingly and informed me that in addition to the above incident, Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy also felt that I may not be flexible enough to accommodate his interests. Though his initial response was not favourable, by the next month I got the feedback that he is inclined to take me as the chief secretary. This was told to me by another minister who was with him at Delhi during that period. But something seems to have happened in between which I am not able to know which made him to decide against my candidature for the post of chief secretary. In the last week of January, the State government wrote to the Centre for early repatriation (from central services) of my batch mate Mr PK Mohanty for being posted as chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh. He landed by 24th of January expecting to take over as chief secretary from 1st February on the retirement of Ms. Minnie Matthew.

But who can gauge the whims and fancies of the political leadership? Having called Mr Mohanty back to be the chief sectary of Andhra Pradesh from the central service, on 26th of January the government decided to give three months’ extension to Mrs Minnie Matthew. He had to wait before he could become the chief secretary. So he was accommodated as the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration for the three month period. On 1st May, after Mr PK Mohanty took over as chief secretary I was posted as CCLA. The normal tradition, unless specifically broken, is that the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration is considered the “chief secretary in waiting”.

Meanwhile things were moving fast towards formation of the Telangana state. On July 30, 2013 the Congress Working committee made a resolution for formation of a separate Telangana state. The process for the bifurcation of the state gained momentum and Mr PK Mohanty as chief secretary and Mr Rajiv Sharma, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home, Government of India, started playing a crucial role in shaping the AP reorganisation Bill. Whatever were the reasons, the chief secretary did not involve me in the bifurcation process though I was the senior-most civil servant after him in the state, and next in line to be the chief secretary. Hence my knowledge of the Act and the division process was very little when I took over as Chief Secretary of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. Amidst heated discussion in the Parliament, some unparliamentary behaviour by some parliament members, in a closed-door situation, with live telecast terminated, the AP Reorganisation Bill was passed by Parliament on 18th and 20th of February 2014 by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively.

It is around that time that opportunity came in my way again to become chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh from 1st March 2014 on superannuation of Mr Mohanty. Mr Mohanty started publicly declaring that he has no intention to seek an extension and would be handing over charge to his successor on 1st march. Around 16th February Mr Ajeya Kallam, who was the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy, rang me up and informed that the CM had made up his mind to make me the next chief secretary and suggested that I meet him personally. Accordingly I met the Chief Minister. Mr. Kallam informed me later in the day that the Chief Minister was inclined to sign the file appointing me CS on the same day but the chief secretary felt it could be signed and issued by the end of the month. Things again took a different turn and Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned as Chief Minister on 19th of February in protest against passing of the AP Reorganisation Bill.

This led to the Governor taking over the state administration. Since by then Mr PK Mohanty was publicly declaring that he had no intention of seeking an extension, my becoming the chief secretary from 1st of March looked certain. Around 23rd February the Honourable Governor organised a religious event in the Raj Bhavan and Mr Dora, ex-DGP of Andhra Pradesh, after checking with Mr Mahendra Reddy, IG Intelligence, came to me and congratulated me.

Since it was the last few days of the month, series of farewell dinners also started and on 25th one such dinner was organised in the MCRHRD Institute attended both by me as well as Mr PK Mohanty. When I returned home from the dinner there was a call from Mr Digvijay Singh, Congress party in charge for Andhra Pradesh. I never met him earlier but could recognise his voice. He congratulated me stating that I was going to be the next chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh. Since it was from the horse’s mouth I thought the information must be correct.

Things took a different turn on 26th February. Mr PK Mohanty went to Delhi on that day ostensibly to discuss the state bifurcation issues but more specifically to explore the possibility of his extension. Another IAS batch mate of mine, a lady, who was there in the dinner on 25th evening, told me some time later that Mrs Mohanty told her that her husband was going to Delhi the next day to explore the possibility of getting an extension of service. He might have impressed the authorities in Delhi that his continuation is essential for the smooth division of the state.

February 27 happened to be Shivaratri and on the invitation of Sri MVS Prasad garu, a senior colleague in service and dharmadhikari of Sankar Mutt, Shamshabad, I went there in the evening. All those who met me there also congratulated me since by then the news got circulated that I would be the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh from 1st of March. When I came back home from Sankar Mutt there was a phone call from Mr Ramanujam, secretary in the Prime Minister’s office and a batch mate of mine. He said he was sorry to tell me some unfavourable news that a decision was taken to give extension to Mr PK Mohanty. I told him that there was only one day left and it may not be possible to go through the whole process to give extension in one day. But he told me that all those things were taken care of, and in fact the file was moving from the Cabinet Secretary, and it would be through in time. There was nothing I could say in reply. Mr PK Mohanty’s lobbying in Delhi on 26th February paid him rich dividend in terms of extension. Though there was nothing wrong in working for his extension, he could at least have avoided publicly declaring that he was not interested in extension while at the same time working for it. On the evening of 28th, the IAS Officers’ Association organised a dinner to welcome the new chief secretary and bid farewell to the outgoing one. But it ended up as a dinner to celebrate Mr Mohanty’s extension. Anyway, I did not attend that party.

The same night I sought an appointment with the Hon. Governor since he should be in full know of things as to why there was this sudden development regarding the chief secretary. I met Mr Narasimhan at Raj Bhavan on 28th morning. There was a feeling of guilt visible in his face. He requested me not to keep this in mind and declared that I would be the chief secretary a few months later, if not now. It was not a pleasant meeting and I left Raj Bhavan talking plainly to him without mincing any words. I came back home and wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary lodging my protest against the manner in which the last-minute decision was taken for extension, after giving me an impression till then that I would be the next chief secretary. I quoted the All India Service rules which mention that for anybody to be given an extension he should have extraordinary abilities and there is no one in the cadre who could replace him. Since both these conditions do not exist there was no ground for the extension. I also mentioned adverse comments passed by the Supreme Court against the chief secretary in a controversy relating to a case between Mr Umesh Kumar and Mr Dinesh Reddy for the post of the DGP. That an outsider would be better suited to manage the issues of division of the state is an insult to the very concept of all-India services, I wrote in the letter.

Subsequently I came to know the sequence of events on 26th February when Mr Mohanty met the Union Home secretary and informed him his willingness to continue and the Governor gave his consent on 27th. The file moved on 28 February, cleared by the Minister for Personnel around 2 PM and by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh at 4:30 PM and finally the actual order was issued at 10:45 PM in the night. Mr Mohanty stayed back in the office and took charge late that night. There was a public interest litigation filed in the AP High Court relating to the extension of tenure to Mr Mohanty by Mr Chandramouliswara Rao and Mr Divakar Babu. The State Government in its counter mentioned that the caretaker Chief Minister Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy refused to take a view on the issue and the Governor had taken a decision to continue the existing chief secretary. The case was heard and finally dismissed by the High Court.

Meanwhile general elections were held and Sri Chandrababu Naidu and KCR won, to become the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively. I thought given the new circumstances my chances of becoming the chief secretary were bleak. By then it was clear that an officer of Andhra origin was a persona non grata in Telangana and in Andhra Pradesh the scales looked tilted in favour of Mr Ramesh Kumar, special chief secretary to the Governor. He was junior to me by three years but was a special chief secretary by then and in the zone of consideration for CS post. He belongs to the same community as the Chief Minister of (new) Andhra Pradesh. Since he was working with the Governor and is considered to be very close to him, it was but natural that the Governor would be batting for him. Some of my friends informed me that hectic lobbying was going on in his favour in the power corridors.There was a debate within Telugu Desam party whether the chief secretary or the DGP should be from the community of the Chief Minister. Finally it was decided to go in for a person from their community as DGP and select someone else for the post of chief secretary. Mr J V Ramudu was the choice for the post of DGP and this led to the elimination of Ramesh Kumar from the zone of consideration for the post of chief secretary. In those circumstances my name along with that of my batch mate Mr I V Subba Rao came up for consideration. Mr J V Ramudu and I are good friends right from the time we prepared for the IAS exam and he was able to convince Sri Chandrababu Naidu that I would be a better choice for chief secretary and the chemistry between both of us would facilitate better teamwork in administration. In the last week of May I got a call from Mr Sambasiva Rao who was by then working with the Chief Minister-designate, requesting me to meet Sri Naidu as it was decided to take me as the chief secretary. Accordingly I met him and the next day accompanied him to the Governor who was to issue the order of appointment since by then the state was yet to be bifurcated and the new Chief Ministers were yet to take charge.

The extended tenure of Mr Mohanty came to an end on 1st of June and I took charge as the chief secretary of (undivided) Andhra Pradesh on the same day before bifurcation, and continued as the chief secretary of the residuary state from 2nd June. The Chief Minister, looking for an auspicious day, did not take charge till 7th June. The first one week was spent in understanding the AP Reorganisation Act and its implications and making preparations for the swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet.

A lot of activity happened during Governor’s rule in terms of preparation for the division of the state. All the files were copied and made available to both the states. In those days he was assisted by two advisors. A temporary division of the staff was done and division of Transco and Genco was completed. The physical area in the secretariat was divided between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Temporary staff was also divided between the two states both in the secretariat and in heads of the department offices. The process of division of the all-India service officers started with the formation of a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Pratyush Sinha. Though division of Schedule 10 institutions had not started, a committee under the chairmanship of Mrs Sheela Bhide was set up for division of Schedule 9 institutions and another committee under the chairmanship of Mr Kamalanathan for division of the staff on a permanent basis.

In the first one week, the immediate task on hand was swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet on 7th June in an open area opposite the Nagarjuna University in Guntur district. A huge gathering was expected and accordingly arrangements were made. Sri Chandrababu Naidu personally rang up a number of leaders and requested them to attend the swearing-in ceremony. It was a different story altogether when he called Jayalalithaa to invite her she did not come on line and it was a little embarrassing for the Chief Minister as we were all sitting with him at that time. The auspicious time for swearing in was decided as the evening of 7th June.

On 7th we were all there at the place designated for swearing in of the new cabinet. There was a suggestion to me that the traditional Indian dress dhoti-lalchi which I used to wear regularly as EO, TTD looks good on me and that I come in that dress for the swearing-in ceremony since the Chief Secretary has a role of inviting the Chief Minister-designate and the ministers to take the oath of office. I also felt it would be an appropriate dress and accordingly dressed in that fashion and met Chief MinisterSri Chandrababu Naidu just before the swearing-in ceremony. He gave me a look from top to the bottom. I explained to him that I wore the special dress since it was a special occasion. He commented that if I am in this dress and he in plain trousers people may be mistaken that he is swearing me in as the Chief Minister.

The swearing-in ceremony went off well with a lot of dignitaries from the then ally of TDP, the BJP, being present as well as Chief Ministers of some states. A number of relatives of the Chief Minister came and their bloated egos made it a problem for the police to ensure people go to their designated places. There was confusion at the venue and in spite of making the best arrangements and efforts, there was pandemonium associated with such huge gatherings.

As mentioned earlier I took charge on 1st June and Mr Rajiv Sharma took charge as chief secretary of Telangana on 2nd morning. He was by then working as the Additional Secretary in Ministry of Home, Government of India, dealing with the AP Reorganisation Act. As a person who was involved in drafting the act he was well versed with the provisions of the act. He was also by then a member of the Pratyush Sinha committee appointed by Government of India for the division of all-India service officers representing the Centre. Though I was the next seniormost civil servant within the state somehow the previous chief secretary did not keep me involved in the process of bifurcation and to that extent my knowledge of the act and the process of bifurcation was very limited. For the first six months after I took charge as the chief secretary the main task was to address issues of division, and given the attitude of some of the officers of Government of India, and the clout Mr Rajiv Sharma had with them, it was not an easy task.

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