VRS brings abrupt end to career of Andhra’s all-powerful, controversial IAS officer

Amaravati, July 10 The voluntary retirement taken by IAS officer, Praveen Prakash, brought curtains on the career of the senior bureaucrat, who had landed in a huge controversy over transfer of then Chief Secretary, LV Subrahmanyam, in 2019.

One of the most powerful IAS officers in the previous government headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Praveen Prakash took voluntary retirement with seven years of his service left.

With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-led alliance coming to power, the 1994-batch officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre decided to quit IAS.

The state government permitted Praveen Prakash to retire voluntarily with effect from September 30, 2024 on personal grounds as per the provisions under sub-rule (2) of Rule 16 of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958.

Chief Secretary Neerabh Kumar Prasad on July 9 issued an order in this regard.

In the first major reshuffle of senior bureaucrats after Chandrababu Naidu assumed office as Chief Minister on June 12, at least 19 IAS officers were transferred.

They included Praveen Prakash, Principal Secretary, School Education Considered close to former Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, three IAS officers including Praveen Prakash were not given new postings and were directed to report to the General Administration Department (GAD).

When YSR Congress Party came to power in 2019, Praveen Prakash was serving as Resident Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi. However, Jagan Mohan Reddy brought him back to the state and appointed him Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister with full additional charge of Principal Secretary (Political) in the GAD.

The IAS officer had emerged as the most powerful officer in the Chief Minister’s Office, overriding even the Chief Secretary. He was behind several key decisions in the CMO and was considered the CM’s go-to IAS officer.

The major and controversial decision was the transfer of then Chief Secretary, LV Subrahmanyam, to AP Human Resources Development Institute in November 2019.

He, being a Principal Secretary, signed the transfer order of the Chief Secretary.

The row had started with Praveen Prakash sending a proposal to Chief Secretary to be included in the agenda of the Cabinet meeting.

LV Subrahmanyam had taken strong exception to this and served a show cause notice to Praveen Prakash for exhibiting ‘grave misconduct’, ‘misbehaviour’ and ‘wilful insubordination’.

However, a few days after this, the Chief Secretary got a transfer order, duly signed by the Principal Secretary.

In 2021, then State Election Commissioner (SEC), N Ramesh Kumar had invoked his plenary powers to recommend transfer of Praveen Prakash holding him responsible for the inaction against some officers charged with dereliction of duty in the conduct of local body elections.

The SEC also barred Prakash from interacting with the Collectors, Superintendents of Police and any other officer either directly or indirectly dealing with matters relating to the elections.

Prakash had reportedly scuttled the video conference convened to review the poll preparedness, and instructed the Collectors and Superintendents of Police as well as other officers not to participate in the commission meetings.

However, Prakash had denied the charges by the SEC.

In a letter to then Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, he clarified that he never violated the orders of the SEC.

In February 2022, Praveen Prakash was transferred to Delhi to head AP Bhavan.

However, in October the same year, the officer was brought back to Andhra Pradesh and posted as Principal Secretary, Road and Transport Department.

Last year, Praveen Prakash was appointed Principal Secretary for School Education. He was quite active in setting things in order in the department.

The IAS officer’s surprise visits to schools used to evoke fear among teachers. He used to make a detailed inspection of schools from cleanliness to purity of drinking water and from textbooks to mid-day meals.

The Principal Secretary used to take teachers, head masters and officials of the education department to task. He even suspended a couple of officials during the inspections.

Teachers’ associations had taken exception to the IAS officer’s style of functioning. They alleged that he was maligning the teachers working in the government schools.

Some of them said the officer was creating terror with his aggressive style as he travels with a convoy of 10-15 cars like the Chief Minister.

Andhra Pradesh Teachers’ Federation had even threatened to go on mass leave if the government failed to rein-in Praveen Prakash. In August last year, Praveen Prakash had said that he would resign from the IAS if the state fails to achieve 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in schools.

The IAS officer had reportedly told his aides before elections that if the TDP-led alliance comes to power, he would not work under the new government.

As the TDP-Jana Sena-BJP alliance came to power with a landslide majority, Praveen Prakash took the final decision.

A couple of weeks after the new government transferred him without giving him a new posting, he wrote a letter on June 25, requesting that he be allowed to retire voluntarily from IAS with effect from September 30, 2024.

Source: IANS
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