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By the Way

Unhealthy moves


If you are an upright officer and don’t intend to toe the line of the Minister, you can be sure that your days are numbered in the ministry, especially if it is the Health Ministry. Exactly this happened with Keshav N Desiraju. An IAS officer of the 1978 batch of Uttarakhand, who had been serving as Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for less than a year, Desiraju was suddenly transferred on February 11 to a insignificant department of the Consumer Affairs Ministry. Sources disclosed that there was a tussle between the Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Desiraju for the appointment of the allegedly tainted Dr Ketan Desai as member of the Medical Council of India. Dr Desai was arrested by the CBI on April 22, 2010, where along with three others he was allegedly accused of allowing the Patiala-based Gyan Sagar Medical College to recruit a fresh batch of students without having adequate infrastructure. The Minister reminded the Secretary many times, but the upright Desiraju was in no mood to oblige. Dr Desai belongs to Gujarat and he is known to have the right connections with the powers that be. Secretary Desiraju knew Dr Desai’s background and was aware about the repercussions of appointing him as a member of the Medical Council of India. It is learnt that Minister was under pressure to sort out the matter (and get rid of the Secretary) from the top echelons within the Congress Party. It is to be seen now whether the new Secretary Luv Verma, a 1978 batch IAS officer from UP, will toe the line or not? Will they transfer Luv Verma too? Apparently, PM Manmohan Singh is aware of the situation but is keeping mum. Wait and watch.

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