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Modi govt sets ball rolling for DS Mishra to be new UP chief secy, 3 days before his retirement

Ahead of UP polls, Union Housing Secy Durga Shankar Mishra has been repatriated to home cadre for ‘proposed appointment' as CS. This has created a buzz in bureaucratic circles.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Wednesday approved the repatriation of Union Housing Secretary Durga Shankar Mishra to his home cadre Uttar Pradesh for his ‘proposed appointment’ as chief secretary (CS), three days before he was due to retire and just months ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state.  

The DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) circular issued Wednesday states: “The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved repatriation of Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, IAS (UP: 1984) to his cadre for his proposed appointment as Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh.” 

Speaking to ThePrint, Mishra said, “I will be joining the UP government tomorrow.” 

The chief secretary is the administrative head of a state. The UP government is likely to issue an order appointing Mishra as CS soon.  

The DoPT announcement comes at a time when incumbent UP Chief Secretary R.K. Tiwari, considered close to CM Yogi Adityanath, still has a long tenure left. He is due to retire in February 2023. Sources in the UP government told ThePrint that Tiwari, who has been empanelled as secretary, could be brought to the Centre.     

Mishra has been the housing and urban affairs secretary since June 2017, and was additional secretary in the same ministry before that. He has been overseeing the implementation and execution of one of the Modi government’s most ambitious projects till date — the redevelopment of New Delhi’s Central Vista, which includes a new Parliament building. 

It was also during Mishra’s term as housing secretary that some of the Modi government’s flagship programs for the urban sector were implemented, including the Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Bharat, and the launch of metro rail systems in several cities including Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Kanpur.   

Mishra’s appointment has created a buzz

A 1984 batch IAS officer, Mishra’s appointment has created a buzz in bureaucratic circles for more reasons than one. The first is the timing, as his proposed appointment comes just ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state due early next year.

There is no fixed tenure for the post of chief secretary. But the DoPT has given Mishra a one-year extension in case of his appointment as chief secretary.

Also, according to convention, the appointment of chief secretary is the domain of the state government concerned, and is generally made after the chief minister’s approval. The state’s general administration department then issues an order in the governor’s name.

In Mishra’s case, the Centre has already issued an order for his ‘proposed appointment’ before the state government.  

It’s only in the case of Union Territories where the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) can appoint a chief secretary unilaterally, if it so desires. For appointments in states, the Union home ministry must consult the chief minister concerned.

When the MHA nevertheless made such an appointment in a state this October — appointing Renu Sharma to the top post in Mizoram — it created a ruckus with Mizoram CM Zoramthanga writing to PM Modi to appoint a CS with working knowledge of Mizo.

This report has been updated to add details about the extension given to Mishra.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

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