The Karnataka government on Tuesday elevated K Rathna Prabha, the present Additional Chief Secretary to the top post in the state bureaucracy. Her appointment makes her the third woman to become Karnataka Chief Secretary.
This development comes after the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led government appointed Neelamani N Raju, a 1983 batch IPS officer as the first-ever woman police chief in the state on October 31.
As a result, this is also the first time that Karnataka will have both the top posts in the state bureaucracy and the police held by women.
Incidentally, Ratna Prabha will be the third woman to become Chief Secretary after Teresa Bhattacharya in 2000 and Malathi Das in 2006.
Present Chief Secretary Subhash Chandra Khuntia is set to retire on November 30 and CM Siddaramaiah hosted a farewell party for Khuntia at his official residence Krishna on Tuesday.
Ratna Prabha, a Dalit IAS officer of 1981 batch, was tipped to take over the top post with Assembly Elections fast approaching.
Earlier this year, following a Supreme Court directive, Ratna Prabha had led a committee to determine the inadequacy of representation, backwardness and overall efficiency of providing reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. After collating data, Ratna Prabha prepared a report confirming the backwardness of SC/STs and their under representation in the civil services.
The report paved way for legislation, with the Karnataka Assembly passing a bill securing reservations for SC/ST persons in promotions of government jobs on November 17.
Media reports on Tuesday quoted sources within the secretary saying that Siddaramaiah, who has positioned himself as a champion of Ahinda (an acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits in Kannada) rights had little option to choose a different candidate.
Ratna Prabha’s seniority also worked in her favour.
In September, 2016, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa had attacked CM Siddaramaiah for choosing Subhash Chandra Khuntia (who was then away in central deputation) over Ratna Prabha. Even then she was the senior most bureaucrat in the state.
Yeddyurappa had then said, ““It is not enough if the government merely declares that it is pro Dalits and backward classes. If it wants to prove that it has concern for Dalits, it must appoint only K Ratnaprabha as the Chief Secretary.”