THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A problem solver. That’s how M Sivasankar is known in IAS circles of the state. One of the most efficient officers in service, he was handpicked by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan when the latter assumed office, bypassing the regular bureaucrats. Sivasankar, who was stripped off his responsibilities as the secretary to the CM and IT secretary on Tuesday, is the lone conferred IAS official in the current stream of bureaucrats to reach the post of principal secretary and rub shoulders with top echelons of power at the CM’s Office.
The senior-most among the State Civil Service cadre, Sivasankar used to work almost round the clock at the CMO. Almost two years ago, the soft-spoken officer had severed ties with the IAS Association allegedly due to the sensitive and challenging posts he had been holding.
When Pinarayi zeroed in on Sivasankar as his secretary, the move raised eyebrows among bureaucrats who were regular recruits. They had reasons to feel so as the previous CMs had chosen regular IAS officers and not officials from the State Civil Service. Sivasankar is an engineering graduate and holds a master’s degree in business administration. Not many are aware that he started his career with the RBI. Following his appointment as the deputy collector, he was conferred with the IAS in 1995. It was he who was behind the launch of the first smart ration card and had implemented FRIENDS, the one-stop shop for payment of utility bills. He had served as the secretary in various departments. While holding the post of power secretary, he was deputed the KSEB chairman.
A senior bureaucrat recalled how he stepped in to allay the fears of the CM when the KSRTC sought permission to launch relay bus services to neighbouring districts during the pandemic. Another senior bureaucrat told TNIE that Sivasankar has always been an upright official without any blemishes. It came as a shock, rather than a surprise, when Sivasankar’s name was linked to Swapna Suresh, a key suspect in the gold smuggling case. “It is not known whether the IAS Association will take up the case since he had severed his ties with it almost two years ago,” he added.
However, a majority of IAS officers maintained that Sivasankar cannot be at fault for the recruitment of Swapna as the project manager of Space Park under the IT department. They feel that it was PricewaterhouseCoopers which had asked National Informatics Centre Services Inc (NICSI) for a suitable candidate and they zeroed in on Swapna as per the request of the IT department. But Sivasankar’s close ties with her led to his fall from grace.