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Rediff.com  » Business » Meet Girish Chandra Murmu: PM Modi and Amit Shah's go-to man

Meet Girish Chandra Murmu: PM Modi and Amit Shah's go-to man

November 30, 2018 21:42 IST

A 1985-batch IAS officer with a reputation for industriousness, Murmu is currently special secretary in the revenue department.

There was one crucial way in which Gujarat cadre bureaucrat Girish Chandra Murmu, bottom, left, designated to take charge of the secretary, department of expenditure, was considered unlike his peers in the state government during his stint in Gandhinagar.

 

His colleagues were known to be close to either then chief minister Narendra Modi or state home minister Amit Shah.

Murmu, it is said, enjoyed their confidence in equal measure.

A 1985-batch IAS officer with a reputation for industriousness, Murmu is currently special secretary in the revenue department.

He will take charge of this all-important position of expenditure secretary on January 31 next year.

His new job will be a especially important one as the government readies itself for parliamentary elections next year.

But Murmu is used to being in the thick of things.

He served as Modi’s principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office and played a key role in advising him and Shah at critical junctures in their political careers.

“He had an enviable command over legal strategy and advised both during crucial cases against them,” says one of his peers on condition of anonymity.

Many in Gujarat’s bureaucratic circles saw him as the “legal backbone” of Modi and Shah, overseeing their litigation and advising them both from his vantage point in the state home department.

In fact, there was a short period when Murmu, who comes from Sundargarh, Odisha, and holds a Master’s degree from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and an MBA from the University of Birmingham, was part of a group of powerful bureaucrats who ruled the roost in the state government.

No surprise, his proximity to two of the country’s most powerful politicians has also attracted controversy.

In 2013, he was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the alleged fake encounter case involving the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others who were said to be accused of being involved in a plot to assassinate Modi.

That year, an expose by Tehelka magazine reported on an audio recording in the hands of the CBI between then junior home minister Praful Patel, senior law officer Kamal Trivedi and two others along with Murmu (then additional principal secretary), in which the participants had allegedly discussed ways to cover up the crime. The case is still in court.

Murmu, however, retains the confidence of Modi and Shah because he does not carry with him the arrogance that comes with his access to power.

In fact, he is also known to be approachable and down-to-earth.

However, say his colleagues, his disarming demeanour masks a shrewd mind for which no task is hard.

That probably explains why Murmu came to Delhi soon after Modi became prime minister.

In 2015, he was appointed joint secretary in the department of expenditure, so he will be back on familiar ground next year.

He was appointed special secretary in the revenue department in 2017.

Said another bureaucrat on condition of anonymity, “He is known to get things done. Though he keeps a low profile, he is definitely the go-to man for the top bosses.”

Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

Vinay Umarji in Ahmedabad
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