New Delhi: For the second time in seven months, India has a new Home Secretary. In an unexpected appointment, senior IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi, who was to retire today, was appointed to the post, replacing L C Goyal, whose tenure has ended 17 months before the completion of his two-year tenure.
Mr Mehrishi was serving as Economic Affairs Secretary in the Finance Ministry ; since he turns 60 today, it was to be his last working day.
Mr Goyal said he chose to retire. "For personal reasons, I didn't want to continue. It was my own decision," he told NDTV. Many in the government, however, were taken unaware. "Very unfortunate and unexpected," a senior officer and batchmate of Mr Goyal told NDTV.
To some, the fact that Mr Goyal has left about seven months after he was appointed is a cause for concern - the office of Union Home Secretary, with its central role in dealing with law and order, terrorism, border management, disaster management and Naxal operations, has a term of two years.
Mr Goyal took over in February from Anil Goswami, who was sacked after he allegedly tried to prevent the CBI from arresting former Union Minister Matang Sinh in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, a Ponzi scam that bankrupted lakhs of small investors in Bengal.
But recently, sources say, Mr Goyal was seen by the government as an affiliate of recurring controversies. Among them, he refused the security clearance for Sun TV, the massive south Indian broadcasting conglomerate that's owned by the controversial Maran brothers, accused of money laundering and corruption. Without a security permit, Sun TV cannot operate. Though some within and outside the government criticized the Home Ministry's decision, Mr Goyal did not review it.
The Home and Defence Ministries were also allegedly not included in the initiative taken by the Prime Minister's Office to sign a peace accord with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), a leading separatist group that waged guerrilla war in the North-East for six decades against the union government.
Moreover, the MHA proposal to ban NSCN (K) - a Naga Militant group that killed 18 soldiers this year in an ambush in Chandel District of Manipur - hasn't yet been accepted.