The Narendra Modi government on Monday sprang a surprise when it appointed senior IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi as Union home secretary in place of incumbent L C Goyal, who sought voluntary retirement after taking over the charge seven months ago.
The prime minister has approved the appointment of Mehrishi, a 1978-batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, for a period of two years with effect from Monday, an official release said.
Mehrishi was serving as secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs in the finance ministry and was supposed to retire on Monday.
According to sources, the decision has come as a jolt to the bureaucrats in New Delhi.
Since morning, New Delhi is agog with speculation, that the PMO is unhappy over Goyal's handling of the Naga peace accord and the Hardik Patel episode.
In one year, two home secretaries and one foreign secretary have been shunted out. In January, the then Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was eased out of her office six months before the completion of her two-year fixed tenure.
Terming it as an extension of the Gujarat model of ‘use and throw’ bureaucracy, sources said that such moves could drive a wedge between the government and the bureaucracy.
Monday’s development comes against the backdrop of reported controversies in the home ministry surrounding the denial of security clearance to Sun TV owned by the Maran group, issues related to an NGO headed by social activist Teesta Stelvad and the Naga accord.
However, according to the official release, the prime minister approved the request of Goyal, a 1979-batch Kerala cadre IAS officer, of voluntary retirement from government service due to personal reasons with immediate effect.
“For personal reasons, I didn't want to continue. It was my own decision,” Goyal told reporters here after the announcement came.
Goyal said any other reason being mentioned is factually incorrect.
At the same time, Goyal, who turned 60 only a few months ago, said he is hale and hearty.
Goyal was appointed to the post on February 5 by the Modi government after the then Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami was sacked after he allegedly tried to prevent CBI from arresting former Union Minister Matang Sinh in connection with Saradha chit fund scam case.
The post of Union home secretary has a fixed tenure of two years.
The Congress, though, is not all pleased with Mehrishi's appointment.
Congress leaders, who are familiar with transfers in babudom, smell something fishy and rediff.com's sources say they will reveal all in two days.
With inputs from PTI.
Photograph: L C Goyal