In a surprise turn of events, former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan quit as adviser to the Tamil Nadu Government on Friday, according to reports. Besides her, two other top officials were also reportedly removed from their positions at the Chief Minister’s office.
According to a source, a visible power shift is noticeable lately in the government and some of the officials appointed by the late CM J Jayalalithaa have been asked to resign. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asked former chief secretary Sheela Balakrishnan (she was appointed in March 2014 after retirement from civil services) to step down. Balakrishnan was one of Jayalalithaa’s trusted officials. K N Venkataramanan and A Ramalingam, the Secretary I and IV in the CMO, are the other top officials who were also removed from their posts.
Venkataramanan is a retired civil servant and Ramalingam is a serving officer. They were some of the important members of Jayalalithaa’s team of trusted officials.
A source close to TNM said, “The CM was acting under instructions from Poes Garden. This came as a shocking move. Just last week, a few leaders in the AIADMK had claimed that Sasikala would make some big moves soon.”
Though at this stage, it is not quite clear if Balakrishnan’s resignation is confirmed or not but, according to a source, some senior bureaucrats revealed that she had a secret meeting with the government after which she was asked to leave. “She did not give any reasons,” an official said. Her tenure was due to end on March 31.
62-year-old Balakrishnan efficiently handled the state’s administration during the 75 days when Jayalalithaa was fighting for her life in hospital. Hailing from Kerala, Balakrishnan was in the 1976 IAS batch and retired from service in March 2012. From an assistant collector (training) in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, in 1977 to earning a place as Jayalalithaa’s trusted aide wasn’t easy, but she served as Secretary to the Chief Minister between 2002 and 2006. She took over as the Chief Secretary on January 1, 2013, superseding her husband, and held the post till March 31, 2014. Two years later, she became adviser to the government for a period of one year. In 2015, her service was extended by another two years.
Following Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 last year, there is a disturbing battle between bureaucrats in Tamil Nadu amid rumours that some of the officials appointed by the AIADMK leader in key positions could be removed.
Confirming the report, a top government source, said: “…while Ramalingam’s removal was expected for his close links with Sheela Balakrishnan, Venkataramanan, who had a good rapport with Sasikala as well, had never expected to face the heat of new political changes happening at the top of AIADMK.”
Feature Image Credit: India Live Today
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