Babus scramble to keep up with workaholic CM

By bappaditya paul
The CPI-M may poke fun at chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee’s “pace of work”, but officials in the chief minister’s secretariat have got themselves a roster to keep pace with their boss and come out of the shadows of the “laid-back” work culture that the babus imbibed during the Left Front government.
On an average day, Miss Banerjee comes to the Writers’ Buildings at 10.30 a.m. and departs at 9.30 in the evening.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) currently has 10 bureaucrats ~ six of them serving as officer-on special-duty (OSD), one as private secretary (PS), one as additional private secretary (APS) all placed in the rank of deputy secretary; and two more officials posted as joint secretary and the secretary.
Since assuming duties in May, the officers were finding it tough to adjust to Miss Banerjee’s gruelling work-schedule and finally, with her consent, got themselves a roster.
According to the new roster, six of the eight deputy secretary level officials in the CMO have divided themselves into three groups ~ assigning two working days for each group to stay back with the chief minister at Writers’ through late in the evening.

The remaining two deputy secretary level officers are one-man team and while one of them attends the CM’s residential office at Kalighat in the morning before coming to Writers’, the other officer has a need-based open-ended duty schedule.
Group “A” has in it OSD, Mr Somnath De and PS, Mr Tapas Choudhury and their extended duty falls on Monday and Wednesday. Group “B” comprises OSD, Mr Soumendra Nath Banerjee and APS, Mr Santanu Basu with Tuesday and Friday allotted to them. OSDs, Mr Subhra Roy and Mr Abhijit Latua are in group “C” and their day of extended duty is Thursday and Saturday.
On the allotted days, while the officers come to office at the usual 10 a.m. schedule, they are required to stay back at the Writers’ till the time the CM leaves for home in the evening. On other days, the officers are allowed to leave early.

Although the two other OSDs ~ Mr Sankha Subhra Chakraborty and Ms Priyanka Basu Ingty ~ are not part of the extended evening duty roster, they too have additional tasks to deliver. Mr Chakraborty, who is a WBPS cadre, attends the chief minister’s residential office at Kalighat from 9 a.m. till noon and then comes to Writers’. Ms Ingty, on the other hand, is required to stay back late at the CMO if and when there is a need.
The CMO secretary Mr Gautam Sanyal and the joint secretary Mr Santanu Basu stay at Writers’ as long as the CM is in office.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece originally appeared in The Statesman on 23 July 2011.)