Amaravati: Pravin Prakash, the 1994 batch IAS officer, who was at the centre of controversy for his role in the unceremonious exit of then Chief Secretary L.V. Subramanyam, is back in focus again. He has emerged stronger this time in the recent rejig of assignments in the Chief Minsiter’s Office (CMO) in Andhra Pradesh.
As Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister in the CMO, Pravin Prakash even outdid his super senior Ajay Kallam, who was appointed as the Advisor to the CM after his retirement, in the race for the key assignments. Kallam, considered to be a close confidante of Jaganmohan Reddy, now remained just an Advisor to CM without any subjects under his control.
In a recent order issued in the name of Prakash himself, he has been vested with almost all the key assignments such as home, revenue, finance and planning, law and legislative affairs, CMO establishment and also the subjects relating to the Centre-State relations.
Earlier, Pravin, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, was the Resident Commissioner at Andhra Bhavan in New Delhi. He was later brought to Amaravati on September 17, 2019 to hold the dual assignments—Principal Secretary to CM and the Principal Secretary (Political), General Administration Department (GAD) as well–after Jaganmohan Reddy came to power.
As the Principal Secretary to CM, Pravin in November, 2019 issued transfer orders to L.V. Subramanyam, then Chief Secretary in an unprecedented move. Thus, he became highly controversial, drawing the flak from the IAS circles and even from the outside. Prior to LV’s transfer, Prakash, using his position in the CMO, reportedly shunted out K. Gurumurthy, Additional Secretary in the GAD without keeping the Chief Secretary in the loop. As the head of the GAD’s political wing, Prakash was in a bind over circulating the transfer file to the CS for approval. Gurumurthy complained to the CS about the alleged scornful behaviour of Praksh that resulted in his transfer.
Powers without responsibility?
Former Chief Secretary IYR Krishna Rao at that time expressed his strong resentment over Pravin Prakash holding the dual assignments as the Principal Secretary to the CM and the Principal Secretary to GAD (Political), saying the CMO is enjoying power without responsibility. Krishna Rao even filed a writ petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking to amend the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat Business Rules, 2018 to make the officers in the CMO accountable in giving advices to the CM by way of keeping their note files for the record.
Jagan Mohan Reddy faced criticism from his own party lawmakers on his celebrating one year in office that he is running the administration with a coterie of officers around him. The CMO officials are accused of being a stone wall for the ministers, lawmakers and party leaders, denying free access to the Chief Minister. The rebel MP from Narasapuram K. Raghuramakrishna Raju of the ruling party went on record several times saying he was prevented by the officials in the CMO from meeting the CM in spite of having a prior appointment with him.
Under the Jagan Reddy’s rule the CMO, with half a dozen IAS officers, serving and retired, and a host of advisors, is allegedly running a parallel administration, sometimes even bypassing several departments headed by senior IAS officers. The CMO was created to assist the CM. But over period of time became a power centre as a reflection of the CMs of the day with a proclivity to reduce their Council of Ministers to figureheads