Whispers of 3-mth extension for Singh at GSPC

Vol 22, PW 15 (16 May 19) People & Policy

Reluctant he might be but JN Singh is likely to be asked to stay on another three months as speculation mounts about his replacement as GSPC chairman, a position he has held since August 2016.

Singh is believed to be lukewarm about an extension beyond his retirement on May 31. "But (Gujarat chief minister) Vijay Rupani may offer him an extension rather than take a decision (on his replacement) in a hurry," says a Gandhinagar source, in a reference to general election results expected on May 23 and the formation of a new government.

"Rupani would rather have continuity than bring in somebody new at this time." If Singh doesn't get an extension the two frontrunners to replace him are Arvind Agarwal, additional chief secretary in the finance department and Anil Mukim, secretary at the mines ministry in Delhi.

Of the two, Mukim is believed to have a better chance because Agarwal, the most senior IAS officer in Gujarat after Singh, reportedly suffers from poor health. Agarwal is also under a cloud: two years ago he was the subject of a state inquiry into alleged "irregularities in the allotment of land" in industrial estates promoted by Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.

Also in the race is Punamchand Parmar, additional chief secretary health and family welfare, who if selected, would become the first GSPC chairman to have a Dalit background (belonging to a caste or ethnic group that traditionally faces discrimination).