President's Rule in Maharashtra: Ex-ministers given 3 hrs to vacate offices

With President’s Rule imposed on Sunday, ministers’ staffers got busy tearing files and documents when they came to know at 10 am yesterday that they had to vacate the offices by afternoon

With President’s rule being imposed in the state on Sunday, state ministers were in for a shock yesterday when their staffers were given barely three hours to clear out their offices.

Files and documents brought out for shredding at a minister’s office in Mantralaya
Files and documents brought out for shredding at a minister’s office in Mantralaya

Frenzied activity followed in Mantralaya and staff members got busy tearing documents and unwanted files stored in the offices of the now-former ministers. The situation at Vidhan Bhavan, where the makeshift chambers of some ministers are located due to ongoing repair work at Mantralaya, was no different.

The staffers were in a hurry as the instructions, given orally around 10 am, were to hand over possession of the offices to officers from the general administration department (GAD) which looks after allotting offices to ministers and appointing their staff by afternoon.

“The orders were bizarre as, under normal conditions, outgoing ministers are given two to three days to vacate their chambers. But, this time, we were given just three hours and the orders were issued orally,” said a private secretary to a former Congress minister.

Not having written orders posed a hurdle to staffers on deputation to the ministers’ offices as they were unable to join their respective parent departments on Monday. “This has led to an administrative problem,” said an official, adding that he feared all the staffers might lose their salary for the day.

Governor’s boss
Meanwhile, all the powers to run the government now rest with Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao. The impact of the Presidential notification was such that the names of the Prithviraj Chavan-led Cabinet had disappeared from the state government website yesterday itself.

The Governor can now appoint two-three IAS officers of principal secretary or additional chief secretary rank to look after day-to-day administration. He can also sign important files and issue orders.

Negating 'CM' Chavan’s advantage
Highly placed sources told mid-day that toppling the Democratic Front government was a well-thought-out move by the NCP to ensure that Chavan fought his maiden assembly elections as an ordinary candidate and not as the chief minister.

“The sudden change can make a huge difference as, even during the election, the CM is allowed to take one staffer with him and is entitled to additional security cover. But now, Chavan will contest as just a Congress nominee without any fanfare,” said a former Congress minister.

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