A top bureaucrat told TNM that O Panneerselvam was acting under directions from Sasikala
In what has sent shockwaves across the state of Tamil Nadu, three top bureaucrats of the state government have reportedly been asked to resign from their positions at the Chief Ministerâ€™s office. According a source close to the CMO, the bureaucrats, Sheela Balakrishnan and KN Venkataramanan were asked to step down by CM O Panneerselvam. The Chief Minister's Secretary Ramalingam too has been shown the door.
While reports suggest that Sheela Balakrishnan has already put in her papers, the resignation is awaited from Venkataramanan. Ramalingam, Secretary to Chief Minister is a serving officer.
All the three officers were known to be close to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The move comes nearly two months after Jayalalithaa's demise.
A source close to one of the officers asked to leave told TNM, "The CM was acting under instructions from Poes Garden. This came as a shocking move." Just last week, few leaders in the AIADMK had claimed that "Sasikala would make some big moves soon."
Sources told TNM that there was also a battle between bureaucrats in Tamil Nadu and that too played a hand in the sudden decision to ask these top officers to leave.
62-year-old Sheela Balakrishnan, a native of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, belongs to the 1976 IAS batch. She began her career as an assistant collector (training) in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, in 1977.
She was considered a trusted advisor of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. In December 2012, the CM chose Sheela Balakrishnan as Chief Secretary over her husband R Balakrishnan, although he was the most senior IAS office in the state and was next in line for the job.
Sheela continued as Chief Secretary until her retirement in March 2014. Considered Jayalalithaa's "eyes and ears", she was made advisor to the government following her retirement.
During Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation in Chennai last year, Sheela Balakrishnan was considered the point person between O Panneerselvam, who had taken over Chief Ministerial duties and Jayalalithaa. Many even suggested
that in Jayalalithaa's absence, it was Sheela who was practically running the government.
KN Venkatramanan, a 1987 batch IAS officer, who retired as Principal Secretary (III) in 2012 was given a five-year extension of service in May that year. His service extension was due to end in May this year.