Who will be Jammu and Kashmir’s next chief secretary?

Srinagar, Sep 1 (IANS) After Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khandey relinquished office on Monday, choosing his successor is proving to be a tough call for the ruling PDP-BJP alliance.

Khandey was to retire by the end of November this year if had not chosen to seek voluntary retirement reportedly over serious differences with the political bosses.

As per the IAS seniority list of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, Arun Kumar is the second senior most bureaucrat followed by Sonali Kumar, Ashok Kumar Angurana, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai and Brij Kumar Sharma.

All the five top bureaucrats are in the financial commissioner pay scale of Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Reliable sources here told IANS the state government might not go strictly by the seniority of the probables while selecting the next chief secretary.

The same sources said Brij Raj Sharma is generally believed to be the front runner for the top administrative slot in the state, but the ruling alliance is still not firming up on Sharma’s choice because of hectic lobbying by the other probables.

Khursheed Ahmad Ganai is scheduled to retire in October this year while Sharma retires in 2020.

Arun Kumar retires in December next year, while Sonali Kumar retires this November and Ashok Kumar Angurama retires in April next year.

Those favouring Sharma’s elevation argue that because of the length of remaining service and to give stability to administrative set-up he should be the natural choice.

Others argue that the state government must go strictly by the seniority of the probables although many believe to keep its pro-Kashmir Valley political constituency intact, the Peoples Democratic Party should allow Khursheed Ahmad Ganai to head the administration be it just for two months.

Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is expected take to take the final call.

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