Next Karnataka CS: Will Siddu pick own man?

Sources said that a few months ago, some leaders had raised Atheeq’s name for CS, and done so again more recently with Siddaramaiah.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

BENGALURU: With Chief Secretary Rajneesh Goel due to retire, the names of officers who are likely to succeed him are doing the rounds. There are five officers on the list, with the seniormost being Goel’s wife Shalini Rajneesh, who retires in July 2027, and second in line is Gaurav Gupta, who retires in June 2027.

The third is LK Atheeq, who is serving CM Siddaramaiah as Additional Chief Secretary in charge of the CMO for the past year. He had worked closely with Siddaramaiah as his Principal Secretary during his previous tenure of 2013-18, and is said to be close to him. Atheeq, a 1991 batch officer, retires in January 2025. It may be recalled that Atheeq had emerged as a dark horse at the last minute, and took over as Principal Secretary to the CM, a position for which then Principal Secretary ISN Prasad was considered a favourite.

Sources said that a few months ago, some leaders had raised Atheeq’s name for CS, and done so again more recently with Siddaramaiah. According to the civil service officers’ seniority list, if Atheeq becomes CS, he will remain in the post for seven months until he retires in January next year. Thereafter, he can be considered for an extension, as some states have a tradition of extensions. If he is considered for the post, Atheeq will be overtaking many seniors -- Shalini Rajneesh and Gaurav Gupta, who is a batch junior to Shalini Rajneesh. The other two names above Atheeq are Ajay Seth, who is Union Finance Secretary and is handling a far bigger portfolio, and Atul Tiwari, who is also on Central deputation and may not choose to relocate to Karnataka just now.

All eyes are on the CM, who is expected to make his choice known in a day or two. If the CM goes strictly by seniority, he could choose Shalini Rajneesh.

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